Although Kayla Harrison felt suicidal after abuse by a former coach, with help, support, and love she chose to live. This week Kayla won a gold medal in the 2012 Olympic games.
The 2012 Olympics are now over, and how the world cheered them on!
Television sets were tuned day and night into the visual extravaganza covering many athletic games. Amazing feats were performed by the athletes. One such athlete was a U. S. judo star, Kayla Harrison.
Kayla was born in Middletown, OH, July 2, 1990. At the age of 6 Kayla was introduced to the sport of Judo by her mother who held a black belt. Two years later she was introduced to her coach, Daniel Doyle. By the age of 15, Kayla had won two national championships.
However, during that time her coach was abusing her. She eventually told a friend, Aaron Handy, about the abuse because she could no longer take it emotionally. Hardy told her mother, who contacted the police. Doyle was subsequently convicted and sentenced to a ten-year prison term.
Kayla admits that during those years she was an emotional wreck, severely depressed, and suicidal. “I hated my life!”
After the abuse was revealed, she moved away to train with Jimmy Pedro and his father. The new coaches took a “tough love” approach. Jimmy told her, “You know kid, it happened to you, but it doesn’t define you and some day you’re eventually going to have to get over it.” That sounded good, but it wasn’t that easy. Two weeks later her coach found her on top of a two-story building ready to jump and stopped her.
Kayla says, “You’re only a victim if you allow yourself to be. Even though it feels like hell and it feels like it will never end, it will. But you have to have the courage to say I won’t play victim.”
Her case fits the profile of the typical case of sexual abuse. Sexual molestation, as well as physical and emotional abuse, has currently become rampant in American families. About 90% of abuse victims know the perpetrator and in 68% of cases, the perpetrator is a member of the child’s family. Kayla’s coach was a friend of the family who babysat, enjoyed barbecues at their home, etc.
Kayla’s life is good now. The friend she told about the abuse, Aaron, is now her fiancé. She’s also bringing home a gold medal, while being ranked #1 in the world in her division. Congratulations, Kayla!
You can click here for a related story and video about Kayla.