Seattle Storm forward Breanna Stewart revealed that she was sexually abused as a child in an essay for The Players’ Tribune on Monday.
In the essay, Stewart recounted the distressing details of the abuse, which began when she was nine years old.
She wrote that her abuser, who isn’t named in the essay, was a construction worker who lived at her relative’s house and smelled of “cigarettes and dirt.”
Stewart, who won four NCAA titles at UConn, recalled that “basketball became sort of a safe space” for her during this time, though she never felt fully secure.
“But even in my own bed, I was nervous,” she wrote. “It haunted me.”
The abuse continued for two years until Stewart revealed what was happening to her parents, who called the police. Her abuser confessed and was arrested.
Stewart said she felt compelled to tell her story after seeing the personal accounts of abuse that have come to light as part of the #metoo campaign, specifically referencing the recent revelations from Olympic gymnast McKayla Maroney.
Since the essay was published, many people have posted on Twitter in support of Stewart, including some of her current and former teammates and coaches:
Stewie was 4 time Final Four MVP. Today she is MVP for life. Love you Stewie.
— Geno Auriemma (@CoachA1on1) October 30, 2017
— Abby Wambach (@AbbyWambach) October 30, 2017
So much courage by this beautiful human being. Thank you Stewie. You will save so many! https://t.co/jYVnY0P8kJ
— Elena Delle Donne (@De11eDonne) October 30, 2017
Thank you @bre_stewart30 for your bravery. Thank you for saving lives. Thank you for your selflessness. Thank you for helping us understand one of the many abuses faced by so many. Thank you for sharing a piece of the strength of a woman. Salute and much ❤️ https://t.co/zbWFJlK439
— dawnstaley (@dawnstaley) October 30, 2017
So proud of you. Thank you for sharing this, Stewie. https://t.co/Bx1dvYBq40
— Sue Bird (@S10Bird) October 30, 2017
Thank you for your truth, strength and courage. Someone needed to hear this, you have save lives thru your bravery. 🙏🏽🙌🏽👏🏽👏🏽@bre_stewart30
— Seimone Augustus (@seimoneaugustus) October 30, 2017
It takes a lot of strength to share your pain so others could possibly be saved. Love ya Stewie & so proud of you for being so vulnerable 🙏🏾 https://t.co/Xx2qmBnodp
— Swin Cash (@SwinCash) October 30, 2017
Stewart wrote that she hopes her story will help other victims of abuse.
“I’m still working through what comes next now that I have told my story. … So I’ll start by saying this: If you are being abused, tell somebody. If that person doesn’t believe you, tell somebody else. A parent, a family member, a teacher, a coach, a friend’s parent. Help is there.”