‘I want to be the girl who helped others to turn their lives around...’
OLYMPIC SKATER OPENS UP ABOUT RAPE ORDEAL IN AUTOBIOGRAPHY
AN Olympic speed skater and former Loughborough College student has spoken out about a rape ordeal in her autobiography.
In Resilience, Elise Christie describes how she went out after returning from the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games and was drugged by a man and then taken home and raped.
The incident happened in Nottingham when she was 19.
In an interview with the Daily Telegraph ahead of the release of her autobiography, the three-time world champion, who is 31, explained her desire to try to help other sexual assault victims by revealing her own ordeal.
While she has discussed her mental health problems and suicidal thoughts in the past, she has never spoken about the rape.
She said: “There are not many people I’ve spoken to about it – I had to even tell my mum because she wasn’t aware.
“I felt victim-shamed, almost, by what happened. I wasn’t left in a bush, battered and beaten up, so back then I thought ‘it’s not rape’.”
She said she was checked over by a doctor in the days after the assault.
Her attacker later sought her out on Facebook to apologise, but she had a panic attack a year after the rape when she passed him in the street.
Only four people, including the doctor, knew of the incident before she decided to recount it in her autobiography, which is out today.
Christie, who represented Great Britain at the Vancouver, Sochi and Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, has talked in the past about her struggles with mental health, having received abuse and death threats on social media.
Around Christmas 2018, Christie said she contemplated suicide, having suffered huge disappointment at that year’s Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang where she suffered falls in the 500m and 1500m before a disqualification in the 1000m. Four years earlier she had been targeted by South Korean fans online following a collision with Park Seung-hi at the Sochi Games. Christie said: “For me, it was a big step to even talk about the assault in the first place.
“I’ve always talked about the fact that I want to help people. There are so many women who have gone through or who might be going through this same situation right now and won’t speak up either.” With another winter games on the horizon, she said she was feeling optimistic ahead of trying to qualify for the February tournament in Beijing.
After returning from three previous Olympics without a medal, Christie, who was born in Livingston in Scotland, knows making it to China is more than being on the podium.
“In Beijing, honestly it’s just about finishing the competition,” she said.
“There is not one distance at the Olympic Games that I have finished. I know that physically I’m not going to be what I was, but I still have the ability to (win a) medal. But it won’t just be about medalling.
“I also want to be the girl who helped others turn their lives around and the girl who has turned her life around and has come back.
“That’s why I try to set that example.”
■ Resilience has been released in hardcover, priced at £20.
I wasn’t left in a bush, battered and beaten up, so back then I thought ‘it’s not rape’