Seattle Storm forward Breanna Stewart penned a deeply personal essay, which accounts sexual abuse she experienced as a child.
In a story titled “Me Too” that was posted Monday on the Players’ Tribune website, Stewart wrote she was first molested at a relative’s house in upstate New York when she was 9 by a man who continued the abuse for two years.
Stewart, 23, said the man (he was not identified) “lived in one of the houses” of a relative and described him as a construction worker who smoked.
When she was 11, Stewart told her parents who notified the police. She said the man was arrested and later her father told her the man confessed to his role in the abuse.
Stewart, a 6-foot-4 forward, wrote that basketball helped her cope with the trauma of the abuse.
“I’ve never been to therapy,” Stewart wrote. “I didn’t want to talk about it. I didn’t want to relive it. It’s something I’ve tried to tuck away as far back on the shelf as I could. But that only works to an extent.
”I’ve cried. I cry most after I tell someone who’s important to me. Talking about what I went through, explaining all of it – it guts me. I’m forced to relive it. That’s when it hits that what happened is real. It wasn’t just an awful nightmare. It wasn’t some other life I lived at another time.
“I’m angry he took advantage of me as a child. I’ll never get that time back. And what memories I still have, I’ll never be able to erase them. Sometimes I wish for a few more black holes.”
Stewart said she felt compelled to tell the story about the abuse she experienced after reading a similar account by former Olympic gymnast McKayla Maroney, which was part of the Me Too campaign that initially began in 1997 by activist Tarana Burke. The movement was re-energized recently on Twitter by actress Alyssa Milano following sexual harassment allegations against Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein.
“Every time I tell someone, I feel a little more unburdened,” Stewart wrote. “I wish it was as simple as saying that it’s just something that happened to me. Part of it is just that simple – it literally is something that happened. But I don’t know why it happened. I don’t know why this happens. Or why sexual abuse keeps happening.
”I do know that I’m doing something completely outside of myself by writing this. In fact, this is one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done and will ever do.“
Stewart, the WNBA’s Rookie of the Year in 2016, was chosen a WNBA All-Star and finished second in the league in scoring this season. She was a three-time Naismith Award winner at Connecticut where she won four NCAA national titles and a 2016 Olympic gold medalist for the USA team.