Raksha Hoost is an actor and writer with a mission to raise awareness of adult grooming in sport.
After being groomed by her boxing coach, she experienced the obstacles that most athletes face due to lack of media coverage about adult grooming in coach-client relationships.
Her experiences, unclear Codes of Conduct and regulations, and blurred lines between consent and coercive consent led her to the early stages of creating a feature film to reach a bigger audience. For this film, she is looking for experiences of adult athletes to create a new narrative that can help safeguard others in the sports industry.
Google ‘sexual grooming in sport’ and 46.3 million search results pop up. The majority of them speak about child sexual exploitation, manipulative trust relationships with children, and the abuse of young people.
However, there is a gap. One that amplifies the hush-hush culture and excludes a significant group of people: adult athletes who are or have been manipulated into a sexual relationship by anyone in a position of trust and authority in the sport.
After my own experience with being groomed, I hit multiple walls.
First, I needed to understand the process of grooming and acknowledge that my behaviour and decisions had been controlled by my coach. However, I found few stories of adult athletes with lived experience to be able to recognise and validate my beliefs.
Second, to take my power back, I needed to share my story. However, I noticed that most people would rather maintain the status quo than embrace a truth that might be painful and would mean a shift in their structured organisation or life. Reaching out to a governing body had no result.
Third, I didn’t define as an elite athlete: I was entering the boxing world and discovered that support for those who are not considered as professional athletes is limited.
Open conversations about prominent issues in the sports industry will not be easy for any party and will therefore not always be encouraged. Positive change comes with resistance as it requires organisations and individuals to accept that mistakes have been made.
Taking accountability for such errors is a scary thing to do. However, for an athlete, not speaking out about any injustice you have experienced can be damaging to yourself.
As an actor and writer, I know that stories can help others to speak out and take back their power.
To create awareness among a wider audience, I am making a feature film to represent adult athletes with lived experience of grooming.
For research purposes, I am inviting those who are willing to share their story so we can expand the #SaferCultureSaferSport campaign and change the sports industry for the better.
You can be completely anonymous. And I’m interested in hearing second-hand stories as well as first-hand stories.
Get in touch with your story here: firstname.lastname@example.org