Breaking the silence

Garry Hertzberg.

A nine-year-old girl was molested by her tennis coach.

This secret was held deep inside her broken soul for 33 years. After more than three decades, she saw her abuser on trial in the media and decided that if she did not speak up, she would take this secret to the grave. This little girl’s name is Leigh and her alleged abuser is convicted rapist, Bob Hewitt.

Hewitt has a list of victims and this list appears to be getting longer. We tend to forget that each of these individuals has a story to tell. A story that is always heartbreaking and disturbing from start to finish. The tale of Leigh’s life is no exception to the rule.

At the age of nine, Leigh had dreams and ambitions of going to Wimbledon. The man who could train and help her was Hewitt. This man was a star and was admired by all those around him. It was a privilege to be coached by him.

One would assume that after a child is physically abused, the child’s parents would notice that something was horribly wrong. However, Leigh’s parents did not pick up on the change in her personality.

Like most of us, Leigh was taught to respect her elders. She, therefore, did not want to disobey Hewitt by saying anything bad about him. She sincerely believed that he had every right to do with her what he pleased.

The effects of this abuse manifested in her personal life in later years. She only associated love with sex and believed that her failed relationships were a result of the abuse that she faced as a little girl.

She is over-protective of her children and is petrified that somebody will hurt them the way that she was hurt. Leigh’s story should teach us that 16 Days of Activism should be 365 Days of Activism.

Let us work together to break the silence and give the abused a voice and the abuser a conviction.

Also read:

Stolen innocence

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