Lui Lai Yiu is a 23-year-old athlete from Hong Kong. She recently won a gold medal for the women's 60-meter hurdles at the 2017 Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games.
Last week, on her 23rd birthday, Lui shared a #MeToo story on her official Facebook page, accusing her former coach of sexually assaulting her when she was 13.
Lui's post has since been shared more than 7,700 times, with many voicing their support for her and praising her bravery.
It also encouraged others to share their own stories.
Others thanked her for bringing awareness to issues that otherwise might not have been discussed in Chinese society.
Lui's alma mater, Pui Ching Middle School, has since issued a statement on Facebook, saying that Lui had contacted the school three weeks earlier about the incident and that the relevant coach had been suspended.
Lui's full post reads:
I was sexually assaulted by my former coach.
This summer, when I read the news about Taiwanese author Lin Yi-han, I felt the urge to share the unhappy experiences from my childhood, but I lacked the courage.
A few months ago, after I saw Olympic gold medalist McKayla Maroney sharing her experiences of being sexually abused by her team doctor, the idea to share my own story resurged.
It's been many years since it happened, and today I finally plucked up the courage to tell the truth for three reasons:
- to call on people to pay attention to the sexual assault of children
- to encourage victims to be brave and come forward to tell their stories
- to show the public that topics related to sex should not be treated as awkward or embarrassing and shouldn't be something that can't be discussed publicly.
I'm very thankful for McKayla Maroney. Because of her one action, I'm willing to discuss this again, to bravely face the past in the hopes of bringing a positive impact to more people.
Ten years ago, when I was around 13 or 14, I met coach Y while participating in extracurricular activities at school. Coach Y put a lot of effort into training me and building my confidence. We often had afternoon tea or lunch together. You could say he was my teacher and also my friend.
A year later, my sporting achievements had definitely improved, and it made me further believe that this coach could help me achieve even more.
I still remember it was a Saturday around noon. I had just gotten out from cram school when I received a phone call from him. He asked me if my muscles were tense after last week's practice. He said he could help me massage and relax those muscles. Massages, from the viewpoint of an athlete, are considered absolutely ordinary. At the time, I didn't see any issues with that, and in my mind he was still a professional coach.
We met at the athletic field. Then he said it was difficult to give me a massage there and suggested going to his house instead. I agreed. Again, I hadn't noticed anything wrong with that, because I was just a middle school student, and because in my eyes he was a coach I respected.
We went to his house, and he pointed for me to lie on the bed. After he pressed on the back of my thighs three or four times with his hands, he said to me that it was hard to massage my legs with my jeans on and suggested I take them off. I had trusted him, so I had never imagined he would do something so despicable to his own student. Next, he continued the so-called "massage". Finally, he took off my jeans and underwear and touched my private parts. Even as he took off my underwear, I couldn't react.
And so that was what happened. About two years ago, I told this to a very good friend of mine. And to this day, she was the only person who knew about it.
Human beings are full of contradictions. I still kept in touch with this coach these past few years. He had taught me for some time, so every year I still wished him happy birthday. Am I insane? How could I wish the coach who sexually assaulted me happy birthday every year? I don't know. Perhaps I thought I could deceive myself, tell myself that this never happened. But I couldn't lie to my body. After that, every time he came close to me, my body would tell me to move back. After that, physical contact was limited to just patting on the head. When I grew up, I'd sometimes come into contact with him, and I'd force myself to say a few words but all I wanted to do was run away. And this only brought about a bunch of gossip about how I was rude and didn't understand the concept of gratitude.
After I decided to tell my story, I spent a lot of time debating whether to describe my experiences in detail. On one hand, I didn't want people to put the emphasis on the act itself, but on the other, I wanted everyone to know that the aggressor will rationalize everything and use the victim's trust for him to achieve his goal.
I have yet to hear of cases of sexual assault or indecency in the Hong Kong sporting world, but I believe that similar cases do exist. If you unfortunately, like me, have gone through a similar experience, I hope that you will pluck up the courage, seek support from those around you, and no longer be lenient toward offenders. In Chinese culture, topics related to sex have always been considered awkward, embarrassing, and not something you should talk about openly in the the public.
Come forward — your courage will affect a lot of people who have travelled down the same road, the same way McKayla did for me.
As to my family and those who care about me, please don't blame yourself. Don't feel guilty, because your trust, like mine, was taken advantage of. It wasn't my fault, it wasn't my parents' fault, and it definitely wasn't the school's fault. It was the fault of my offender. As a victim, I don't feel shame. I don't want you to feel sad for me. I want you to applaud me for my courage.
"I am not broken. It was not my fault. I am growing strong. I refuse silence." These are the words of a #MeToo victim, and the words of my heart.
Today is my 23rd birthday. Telling the truth is a form of release. It's me transitioning from a victim to a survivor. It's a birthday present to myself. If you want to wish me well and show you care, then I hope you will share this post so that the #MeToo movement continues to burn on, touching more people who have been affected and showing the true faces of the offenders.
"Is it possible to put an end to this type of abuse? Our silence has given the wrong people power for too long, and it is time to take our power back. And remember, it is never too late to speak up." — McKayla Maroney, 2017
Lui Lai Yiu