Breanna Stewart Finds Outpouring Of Support After Opening Up About Abuse

By Paul Doyle, Hartford Courant

In 1,663 words, Breanna Stewart revealed the most personal of stories.

Stewart's piece on The Players' Tribune recounted her experience as a childhood sexual abuse survivor. It's a deeply personal essay which Stewart hopes will inspire others to tell their stories.

And simply by being so open, Stewart is already making a difference.

"The word I would use is courage," said Dr. Laura Saunders, a child psychologist at the Institute of Living. "It takes courage to release the secret. Once you release the secret, it's not a secret anymore and it's a step toward decreasing the isolation and decreasing the shame."

Stewart's essay, published Monday morning, sparked an outpouring of reaction on social media. The former UConn All-American and current WNBA All-Star shared the story on her Twitter and Facebook accounts at 7 a.m. and the story spread quickly, with an array of figures commenting with tweets: UConn coach Geno Auriemma, former UConn guard and Stewart's WNBA teammate Sue Bird, soccer legend Abby Wambach, Sen. Richard Blumenthal, and more.

The tweet from Auriemma: "Stewie was 4 time Final Four MVP. Today she is MVP for life. Love you Stewie."

The essay's title is a nod to the hashtag that has gone viral in response to sexual harassment and assault allegations against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein. Actress Alyssa Milano started the campaign on Twitter two weeks ago and the hashtag has spread.

In fact, Stewart writes that she was inspired to share her story after reading Olympic gymnast McKayla Maroney's account of sexual abuse. Just as Maroney inspired Stewart, Stewart could act as a catalyst for others.

It's one thing to write #MeToo, meaning you can relate to it, but it's a whole other issue to write such a deeply personal story," Saunders said "These kinds of personal accounts, I think, are very powerful and they're very powerful for young people, even adults to read, and realize they're not alone."

Laura Cordes, executive director of the Connecticut Alliane to End Sexual Violence, is encouraged by the magnitude of the #MeToo movement, including Stewart's decision to share her story.

Read full article with tweets here... 

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