WNBA star Breanna Stewart says she was sexually abused as a child

Breanna Stewart made the WNBA All-Star team in her second season on the Seattle Storm. (AP)
Breanna Stewart made the WNBA All-Star team in her second season on the Seattle Storm. (AP)

WNBA All-Star Breanna Stewart joined a growing list of courageous women sharing their personal stories of sexual harassment and abuse as part of the #MeToo campaign that spread on social media following the allegations against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein. The Seattle Storm forward penned a letter entitled “Me Too” for the Players’ Tribune, detailing her experience as a pre-teen.

“I don’t know how to say this part,” she wrote. “I haven’t told many people. I’m not the most vulnerable person — I don’t talk about my feelings much — so this is uncomfortable.

“I was molested for years.”

Stewart, 23, described the man as “a construction worker” with ties to her family who repeatedly sexually assaulted her at night, during the day and in public. “My family was close,” she wrote. “I used to sleep over at relatives’ houses all the time. He lived in one of the houses I slept at the most.”

According to Stewart, the abuse began when she was 9 years old and lasted for two years before she worked up the courage to tell her family and then police. The man was later arrested and confessed.

Inspired by the women who have come forward to publicly name their alleged assailants — Weinstein and fellow producer James Toback, actor Kevin Spacey and journalist Mark Halperin, among others — Stewart wanted to share her story. She specifically cited McKayla Maroney’s account of alleged abuse by a USA Gymnastics team doctor as one reason she felt compelled to write the letter.

Another reason:

“I’m still working through what comes next now that I have told my story,” Stewart wrote. “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.”

The abuse began for Stewart soon after she began her athletic career. “Basketball became a sort of safe space for me,” she added. “But no space felt completely safe.” She does not want to be defined by basketball or the abuse, but she still sees the court as an escape from memories that still haunt her.

Stewart was the nation’s top female high school basketball player in 2012. She won four NCAA titles in four seasons at the University of Connecticut, earning national collegiate player of the year honors three times. Drafted first overall by the Seattle Storm in 2016, she captured WNBA Rookie of the Year honors last year and made the 2017 All-Star team. She also won a gold medal at the Rio Olympics.

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Ben Rohrbach is a contributor for Ball Don’t Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at rohrbach_ben@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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