Kuntz: It was a long process for me to get to where I could, one, even identify as a survivor, and two, talk about it.
I was abused by a coach in my track and field experience, and it took me over eight years to really acknowledge the abuse that occurred.
One thing that triggered it: While I was volunteer coaching, I noticed an assistant with behavior patterns and red flags similar to the coach that had abused me. Athletes were bringing this to my attention: there was emotional abuse occurring, concerns about physical abuse as well.
I spent a year trying to work with athletes to get this addressed, with very little change from university administration. Seeing these young athletes in a situation similar to what I’d been in, I said, “I cannot just sit back and see what I went through happen to others.” That helped me decide I needed to speak up about this.
Initially, it was easier for me to speak up about what I saw happen to others. But during that process, I realized I couldn’t continue to be quiet about what happened to myself, that I deserved to speak up on my own behalf, just as these girls had somebody speak up on their behalf.
So I went through a process of talking about my own experience, saying “I’ve been there too. I know what it’s like.” It helped their healing process, while at the same time healing myself.
Ultimately, this paired well with my desire for decathlon. When we view women as too weak and incapable of doing decathlon … it’s easier for people to say, “Well, these young girls don’t know what they’re talking about when they’re speaking out about abuse from a coach.” My view is: If we don’t view one another on equal footing on the field, how the hell do we expect to view one another on equal footing off the field?
So it’s been two parallel tracks. Strive for equity in what I do, become a female decathlete to grow the sport and show young girls, “You can do this.” And also, share my story and tell people: “Understand you’re not alone.”