Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Title

International Review for the Sociology of Sport




School of Education




Swedish Research Council for Sport Science


Barker-Ruchti, N., & Varea, V. (2023). Surviving child sexual abuse in women's artistic gymnastics: ‘It's beautiful, because had I stayed in the past, I wouldn’t have evolved as a person’. International Review for the Sociology of Sport. Advance online publication.


The USA Gymnastics sex abuse scandal raised global awareness about child sexual abuse (CSA) in women's artistic gymnastics. The ensuing media coverage also centre-staged victims’ survivorship stories, a process that for many moved from dissociating, recognising and disclosing CSA to feeling comfort when connecting with survivors and accepting CSA as part of their life history. However, scholarship on what survivorship from CSA in sport entails, and importantly, what it means to athletes, is limited. In this article, we frame the survival of CSA using Arthur Frank’s socio-narratological conceptualisation of people being able to process the devastating consequences of a life-threatening and/or a life-altering event, and present the survivorship stories of two former gymnasts, Maria and Lucia (pseudonyms). For these two women, survivorship was facilitated by hearing others’ stories of sexual abuse, purposefully facing their CSA experiences and connecting with one another later in life to raise awareness about sexual abuse in sport. Thus, in addition to presenting Maria and Lucia's stories for the purpose of providing CSA victims with a survivorship narrative, we outline and reflect on the role hearing and telling stories have in CSA survivorship.



Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.