Author: DIANA NYADNOV.
Here I was, a strong-willed young athlete. There he was, a charismatic pillar of the community. But I’m the one who, all these many years later, at the age of 68, no matter how happy and together I may be, continues to deal with the rage and the shame that comes with being silenced.
My particular case mirrors countless others. I was 14. A naïve 14, in 1964. I don’t think I could have given you a definition of intercourse.
My swimming coach was in many ways the father I had always yearned for. I met him when I was 10, and those first four years were marked by a strong mentor-student bond. He repeatedly told me I had all the talents to one day rock the world. I worshiped my coach. His word was The Word. I built a pedestal for him and gazed up at the center of my universe.
That summer, our school hosted the state championships. It was a big deal, and I was a star in the middle of it all. In between the afternoon preliminaries and the night finals, bursting with confidence, I went over to Coach’s house for a nap. This was normal: Coach’s house, his family, his kids were all part of the swim team’s daily milieu.
I was dead asleep in the master bedroom when it happened. Out of nowhere, he was on top of me. He yanked my suit down. He grabbed at and drooled onto my breasts. He hyperventilated and moaned. I didn’t breathe for perhaps two full minutes, my body locked in an impenetrable flex. My arms trembled, pinned to my sides. He pleaded with me to open my legs, but they were pressed hard together. If breath gives us force, that day I could feel the strength in my body from the polar opposite — from not breathing. He ejaculated on my stomach, my athletic torso I was so proud of now suddenly violated with this strange and foul stuff.
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