Many European communities have been shaken by revelations of sexual abuse through trusted members of their community. Rates of sexual violence against children and adults in Europe are clearly unacceptable, and sexual violence is still a hidden deed often surrounded by silence and denial.
Sport enhances the lives of individuals in many ways, however, reports of sexual violence within sport are more evident now than at any point in the past. Young people, keen to succeed in sport, can be especially susceptible to sexual harassment and abuse. Tackling sexual violence in sport – and through sport – requires not only the implementation of policy, but also greater understanding of the problem within sports communities. The voices of those who have experienced sexual violence have been especially important for understanding the emergence of violence and for initiating cultural change.
VOICE aims at combatting sexual violence in sport through the voices of those affected. A crucial research study in eight European countries will gather the accounts of those people who have experienced sexual violence in sport. Based on this and via a collaboration of sport organisations, victim support agencies and universities, a process of reconciliation will be initiated in each country by installing Acknowledgement Forums. The outcomes of the research study and the Forums will be transferred into educational resources for the European sports community, which will be disseminated to a wide range of sport organisations in Europe, enhancing its capacity to combat sexual violence and strengthen the integrity of sport.
VOICE is partnered by 4 European sport federations, 1 victim support agency and will be delivered in 8 EU countries through the collaboration of 24 organisations from higher education, sport and victim-support.