Many of the girls and women interviewed for this guide praised the way sport helps them forget their worries and experiences. Sport distracts survivors of GBV from their emotional and mental distress. It is an instrument enabling girls and women affected by GBV to be present in another reality, to have fun, to focus on the future. It offers them a temporary escape from the physical and emotional pain of their past. In the tense setting of conflict/post-conflict areas, sport can be a simple, welcome reprieve to the trauma and destruction in survivors’ lives. Participation in sport is also associated with lower rates of suicidal thoughts among adolescent girls in developed countries, although it is not clear whether this is true in developing countries.
Irene* is a Rwandan woman who was raped repeatedly during the genocide. As a result, she was outcast by her family, her community, and her friends. Irene harboured enormous feelings of distrust towards men and continues to be verbally abused as she slowly tries to integrate herself back into the community. Sport helps her to forget about the traumatic events that she experienced and gives her a sense of normalcy. She said that being part of the team helps her rise above the negative feelings and that her teammates give her strength. She is learning to trust again with the help of the sport programme.
M.J. Oler et al. Depression, Suicidal Ideation, and Substance Use Among Adolescents: Are Adolescents at Less Risk? (1994) Archives of Family Medicine, at 784, cited in President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports Research Digest (1998) & D. Sabo et al., d (2005) 40:
* Name changed to preserve anonymity