Sports and sexual violence: the end of the silence? Documents and debate during a special evening on France 2.

On Wednesday 11 May, France 2 offers a special evening around the documentary Un si long silence, which chronicles the journey of skater Sarah Abitbol and her courageous path to freedom of expression and reconstruction.

According to the broadcaster, the film looks back on the exceptional impact her revelations about the assaults she suffered have had on the world of French sport. This documentary is followed by a debate led by Julian Bugier. The evening continues with Infrarouge and another new documentary: Ice Therapy.

Such a long silence:

“The film follows former figure skating champions, injured by intensive practice of their sport, who try to rebuild themselves after a sudden end to their careers.

Young Sarah is promised a champion career from a very early age… Like all little girls her age, Sarah Abitbol has only one dream: to become a figure skater. From the age of 5, she trained intensively and possessed all the qualities to become a great skater and find glory. Moving to Paris and disrupting family life, this is the price you have to pay to become a champion! It will be her, as a couple. Ten-time champion of France, vice-champion of Europe and bronze medalist at the World Championships. In the 1990s, speed skating was one of the most popular sports in France and around the world. All matches are broadcast in prime time on national channels and the champions of the discipline are real popular stars. Katarina Witt, Philippe Candeloro, Surya Bonaly, the Anissina/Peizerat, Abitbol/Bernadis couples… Ice and glitter make all of France dream.

However, the skate world hides some of the horror: ubiquitous sexual harassment and violent assaults on minors. Despite the rumours, the victims’ voices are muffled, muzzled by a system that protects itself. It is the lordship of omerta. Sarah’s, raped when she was between 15 and 17 years old, was also asphyxiated for thirty years. Until 2020 when she finds the courage deep within herself to break the ice and open up about the attacks she suffered in the book Un si long silence. The publication of his book led to an unprecedented upheaval in the world of speed skating and French sport as a whole. The other testimonials from victims are not long in coming. Sarah Abitbol paved the way for freedom of expression.”

A film by Emmanuelle Anizon and Remy Burkel.

Debate presented by Julian Bugier at 10:45 pm:

The revelations about Sarah Abitbol’s rape during her adolescence and early career sent shockwaves across the sports world. They have helped with freedom of expression for some victims. But is this the end of the silence? Are some still quiet? What are the roles and responsibilities of the various sports bodies that are supposed to monitor the practices and protect sportsmen and women: sports federations, the state, institutions such as the International Olympic Committee? How to support the victims? But above all: how can this violence be prevented? And how can we make children and their parents aware of the risks of violence?

Documentary Ice Therapy at 11:45 PM:

“Marina, Lison, Camille and Aurea are former figure skating champions, they are between 16 and 24 years old. They devoted their childhood and adolescence to their practice until a sudden stop for physical and psychological injury. Today “today they have to learn to live without to skate. During a course organized by choreographer Benoît Richaud, they will try to reclaim their bodies through ice, understand things from the past while skating and put into words things that they would rather not think about until now. By sharing their buried memories together, they emerge from their loneliness and gradually affirm new desires.”