Sports and sexual violence: the end of the silence?

“Un si long silence”, a powerful and chilling documentary, traces the long road to freedom of expression for skater Sarah Abitbol, ​​victim of sexual assault by her trainer, and the devastating media impact of her revelations in the sporting world. † The evening will continue with a debate led by Julian Bugier and the broadcast of “Ice Therapy”, an unpublished “Infrared” documentary. Until Wednesday 11 May from 9.10 pm on France 2.

Such a long silence © Imagissime – Mediawan

Such a long silence

“I want to get out of here, I want to talk, but I feel so guilty and ashamed. †
Behind a little girl’s dream to become a figure skater, the hell of her life.

As soon as she set foot on the ice, Sarah Abitbol fell in love with ice skating. While she was winning in departmental and regional competitions, she was noticed by Gilles Beyer, head of the Club des Français Volants de Bercy. Sarah and her family then moved to Paris. A new life begins… With her trainer Jean-Christophe Simond, Sarah takes flight, self-confidence. He soon sees in the young girl a fierce will to succeed. So much so that Sarah won the gold medal at the France Espoirs Championships at the age of 14. But the dream crumbles when Jean-Christophe Simond has to leave. † A coach is someone who almost belongs to your family ‘ says Sarah. But Gilles Beyer decides to take back his promising career. The young skater believes in it again. His mother Martine confides that” In the beginning everything went smoothly…
At the beginning… ‘ she repeats with tears in her eyes…

Such a long silence

Such a long silence

© Imagissime – Mediawan

From dream to hell
In addition to his exceptional methods and his authority, Gilles Beyer is a recognized and respected trainer who does not hesitate to push his young athletes both mentally and physically. And for Sarah, all hell started in 1990, in La Roche-sur-Yon, during a summer camp to prepare her for the World Junior Championships. One evening in July, while she is sleeping, Gilles Beyer visits her in her room…” He starts to set me on fire, I have the impression that I’m dreaming, that it’s not real… And he goes on and it goes a little further. » The beginning of the nightmare for Sarah who locks herself in silence. Such a long silence… Back in Paris, hell continues. His executioner multiplies sexual violence. † You raped me in the parking lot, the locker rooms, every corner of the ice rink I didn’t know existed says the skater in her book. For two years Sarah endured her trainer’s rapes in silence, feeling dirty and embarrassing » and chain the falls on the ice. The flame went out. † Something is broken in my body and in my soul”she says.
At the age of 17 she met Stéphane Bernardis, her partner on the ice who quickly became one in life. With him she forgets this part of her life and rediscovers her passion for skating. Ice cream enthusiasts achieved victories as a couple and became vice champions of France and bronze medalists at the World Championships. But a few days before the promising Olympics in Salt Lake City, Sarah breaks her Achilles tendon and the couple has to take the loss.
After an intensive rehabilitation they become European champions again, but Sarah’s heart is gone. The pair split up and turned the page in the competition to become professional skaters. During the acclaimed tour ofHoliday on the ice, Sarah is tired, feels unmotivated. And it is with his new companion that everything suddenly reappears, like ” a flash, an atomic bomb going off, the image of my trainer sitting on my bed Encouraged by her companion, Sarah breaks the silence with her parents, but does not have the strength to file a complaint.

Such a long silence

Such a long silence

© Imagissime – Mediawan

When a champion breaks the omerta in French sport
Sarah flees to Miami to forget and try to rebuild herself, but despite her new life, the family’s mother is still plagued by mischief, well aware that her executioner is still there. And it’s by looking the consolation, the film that exposes Flavie Flament’s sexual assaults and Sarah decides to act. Flavie Flament puts her in touch with journalist Emmanuelle Anizon who begins her investigation. Everyone knew there was “a problem” with Beyer, but he had to find other skater victims willing to talk. But silence reigns over this small world that protects itself. Sarah, for her part, still fails to fully release her speech, until 2020 when she finds the courage to participate in the work Such a long silence† “An atomic bomb” then falls on the skate world. And the shock wave is not long in spreading the entire sport. Everything accelerates. Caught in a media storm, Sarah begins speaking on the radio and within seconds reveals thirty years of unspoken suffering. Beyer finally admits the facts and is suspended from office. A first win. And not the last. Sports Minister Roxana Maracineanu does not want to stop there and demands the resignation of Didier Gailhaguet, president of the French Ice Sports Federation (FFSG). This is followed by the beginnings of a collective consciousness, a wave of words under the hashtag #Balancetonsport, where athletes, all sports together, finally break the silence. † My shame turns to pride and this is my best Olympic medal says the one who bravely paved the way.

Documentary (90 min) by Emmanuelle Anizon and Remy Burkel a production Imagissime (Mediawan) — In co-production with France Televisions, with the participation of RTS

Broadcast on Wednesday 11 May at 9.10 pm on France 2
To see and rate on france.tv

Debate hosted by Julian Bugier

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?

Debate — Presented by Julian Bugier – Realised by Philippe Lallemand – Production FranceTV Studio — Guests on set Sarah AbitbolEmmanuelle Anison, journalist at the Obs and co-director of the documentary, Roxana MaracineanuMinister of Sports, Sebastien Boueilhaassociation Colossus on clay feet, victim of sexual violence as a teenager, Philippe Liotardsociologist and anthropologist specializing in sexual violence in sports, Greg DecampsPresident of the French Society of Sport Psychology.

Aired on Wednesday 11 May at 10:25 PM on France 2
To see and rate on france.tv

ice therapy

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 harm. Today they have to learn to live without the skates. During a course organized by choreographer Benoît Richaud, they will try to reclaim their bodies through ice, understand things from the past through skating and give words to things they would rather not think about until now. Sharing their buried memories together, they come out of their loneliness and gradually affirm new desires.

ice therapy

ice therapy

© Daybreak

Documentary (60 min) by Chloe Mahieu and Lila Pinell – Production point of the day and Balibari Movies – With the participation of France Televisions

Broadcast on Wednesday 11 May at 11.45 pm on France 2
To see and rate on france.tv