Stewart hopes to help with difficult personal story

  • In a Players' Tribune column, WNBA star Breanna Stewart shared her personal story as a victim of sexual abuse as a child.

    In a Players' Tribune column, WNBA star Breanna Stewart shared her personal story as a victim of sexual abuse as a child. Associated Press/file

Updated 11/3/2017 8:14 PM


It happens on social media. A lot.


You know the types. Every family outing, every personal milestone, every thought. Posted. For all to see … and to digest.

Can you say TMI?

But sometimes, sharing, even to an uncomfortable degree, can be a good thing.

Did you read what Breanna Stewart, one of the best players in the WNBA, posted on The Players' Tribune this week?

A little uncomfortable to read. But a powerful read nonetheless. A valuable read, a "protest" of sorts by a professional athlete that actually might do some good.

As part of the #MeToo campaign that encourages victims of sexual abuse and harassment and assault to tell their stories and stand together, Stewart wrote a sad and poignant first-person account of a painful and life-changing time during her childhood.

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It was the first time that she shared these details publicly.

Stewart, who led Connecticut to four NCAA championships from 2013-16, was the most valuable player of the Women's Final Four a record four times and was the top pick in the WNBA draft in 2016, says she was molested by a family member for two years, starting around age 9.

She wasn't champing at the bit to share that back story, but with the #MeToo campaign and other fellow victims as inspiration, she felt compelled. She hopes she can help others struggling with the same demons.

Much respect for Stewart, now an all-star forward with the Seattle Storm. What she's doing takes incredible courage.

"I'm doing something completely outside of myself by writing this. In fact, this is one of the most difficult things I've ever done and will ever do," Stewart said.

But for Stewart, the power to reach others outweighed the discomfort of sharing, perhaps oversharing, something so intensely personal and uncomfortable.


"I'm still working through what comes next now that I have told my story," Stewart said. "In sharing, I know that no matter how uncomfortable I typically am making things about myself, as a public survivor, I now assume a certain responsibility.

"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."

Who knows how many victims Stewart already has helped. She certainly has touched many of her former teammates and coaches and fellow WNBA players.

Former Chicago Sky star Elena Delle Donne, who played with Stewart on the 2016 women's Olympic gold-medal team, posted her feelings about Stewart's article on Twitter.

"So much courage by this beautiful human being," Delle Donne tweeted. "Thank you Stewie. You will save so many!"

Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma was moved and saddened by Stewart's story.

"You don't really get the whole gist of everything until you read it," Auriemma said. "And then when you read it, it's different. It's pretty powerful. It couldn't have been easy.

"Stewie's grown up a lot. Being out on her own, in Seattle and China (for off-season basketball), she finally felt like a grown-up and could talk about something that was very, very, very personal.

"You hear about it when it happens to adults, and it makes you shake your head. But when it happens to kids, that's another whole layer of difficulty. I'm proud of her and she's going to be OK."

While many others also will give thanks to Stewart, I wish more professional athletes would use their platform like she has.

Hoops around corner:

The preseason Associated Press women's basketball Division I poll was released this week, and Connecticut was the unanimous pick for the No. 1 ranking, the fifth time that has happened in school history. Overall, the Huskies have been the preseason AP No. 1 team 12 times.

DePaul earned the No. 25 spot in the preseason poll.

• Twitter: @babcockmcgraw

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