For the first time, a former sports
journalist revealed publicly that she was raped by a Major League Baseball
player during a work interview
Kat O'Brien wrote in an essay published Sunday in The New York Times
that she was attacked when she was 22 years old and writing about sports for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram when she was attacked in his hotel room.
“I hope that by sharing my experiences, more women
will feel comfortable speaking up when something is inappropriate,” O’Brien wrote, adding, “I also hope that more people
working in these spaces will bring change, whether in big ways, such as an executive empowered to hire more inclusively, or in small ways, such as speaking up when someone jokes
that a woman slept her way to a job or a story.”
After New York Mets
general manager Jared Porter was fired in January for sending sexually explicit texts and photos
to a female reporter in 2016, O'Brien said she decided to come forward with her assault
As she read about other women's sexual harassment
experiences, "the full force of my own assault hit me," O'Brien wrote, "and with it came the relief that I hadn't invited it, hadn't done anything wrong at all, something I had never once considered."
I wrote an achingly personal piece for the @nytimes today about being raped by an @mlb player while working as a sports reporter, and, more importantly, about the toxic environment
of sexual harassment that female sports journalists
face on a daily basis.https://t.co/TylQ0mduNt
1/ — Kat O'Brien (@OBrien_Kat) June 20, 2021
O'Brien stated in her essay that she did not name her assailant because doing so would expose her to the possibility of having dirt thrown on her reputation.
During a 2002 interview, the player “moved suddenly to kiss me,” she wrote.
“I said, no, no, I don’t want that,” she continued, “but he pushed me over to the bed. I tried to shove him. I said no, stop, no, stop, over and over. He pushed further, getting on top of me, pulling off my skirt, and having sex with me against my will.”
O'Brien didn't tell anyone because she felt she had done something wrong, something to invite the attack, and she was afraid that reporting it would jeopardize her career.
“I blamed myself,” she explained. “I must have been too nice, too trusting, too friendly and open, and even though I said no, it must have been a misunderstanding. I lived in fear that the story would get out
“I didn't date for more than four years because I didn't trust that intimacy, and I kept people at a distance,” she said.
She also faced "smaller daily assaults" at work, such as being called "Legs" by a coach, hearing players say she must be wearing a thong or no underwear at all, and seeing players "feign sex acts" with an inflatable female doll in a sports manager's office.
“A professional athlete raping a reporter isn’t a sports story,” O’Brien concluded, “it’s a story about power in our society and how men wield it against women. One in every five women is a victim of rape or attempted rape... How many of them do not come forward?”
“I will no longer allow a violent act committed by a man to define my life; talking about it is traumatic, but not talking about it is equally so,” she added.
“So I leave you with my story and the realization that my truth from all those years ago hasn't changed at all, but has finally found the light.”
You can read the rest of O'Brien's essay here.