"Athletes are sensitive human
beings with lives beyond sport;
they are not simply a commodity."

The Coaches' Report

Sexual Harassment Survey Results


This informal online survey was conducted between July 9 and August 9, 1999. The survey was open to skaters, parents of skaters, coaches or instructors, club or rink officials, and other figure skating professionals in all countries and affiliated with any skating organization. Respondents were asked to answer 8 to 21 questions about themselves and their experiences concerning sexual harassment at the facilities where they work or train.

182 responses

A total of 182 people took the survey. Of these, 146 were female and 36 were male. The survey was taken by 84 skaters under the age of 18 (73 female, 11 male), and by an additional 35 skaters aged 18 to 30. Most other respondents to the survey identified themselves as coaches or instructors, or as parents.

Sexual harassment reports
A total of 45 respondents said they had, or had possibly, experienced sexual harassment by someone else involved in skating. (25 said "yes," while 20 said "possibly." Those who indicated "possible" harrassment were permitted to answer all the questions on the survey, however. A breakdown of answers per the two groups is available on request.) Nine males said they had or possibly had experienced sexual harassment, with 36 females also indicating this. A summary of their responses is available.

Harassment by coaches, skaters and officials
Eleven respondents indicated they had been harassed or possibly harassed by their own coach or instructor at some point in their career in skating. (Nine respondents indicated harassment or possible harassment by another coach or instructor at their rink.) Fifteen said they had been harassed or possibly harassed by other skaters. Others indicated judges, referees or club/rink officials as harassers or possible harassers (6 responses).

Time frames
Of the 45 respondents reporting harassment or possible harassment, most (21) had had their experiences within the past two years. Nine people said they were currently experiencing harassment or possible harassment.

Ages of harassment victims
Thirteen people indicated that they were between 14 and 17 years of age when the harassment or possible harassment began. Another 13 people noted that harassment or possible harassment began when they were over 18. Additionally, there were nine reported cases of harassment beginning prior to age 13. (Some chose not to answer this question.)

Forms of sexual harassment
Most (26) indicated that the harassment or possible harassment took the form of "sexually suggestive comments, insults, propositions or threats." "Unwelcome physical contact (touching, pinching, kissing, etc)" was reported by 24 respondents. A lesser number (7) indicated "unwelcome sexual activity or assault."

Pressure to remain silent
Those reporting harassment or possible harassment were almost evenly divided on whether or not they felt they needed to remain silent for fear of damaging their skating lessons, opportunities or careers (16 "yes," 15 "no"). However, an almost equal number of respondents chose not to answer this question. Most respondents (16) said they had not experienced retaliation for complaining or avoiding the possible harasser. (Again, a similar number of respondents chose not to answer the question.)

Actions taken in response to harassment
Most respondents (20) said they either avoided or stopped working with their possible harasser. (Multiple answers were permitted on this question.) Thirteen said they told a friend, and 14 said they took no action at all. Two indicated that the harassment they experienced had prompted them to stop working or competing in the sport. Ten reported that they confronted their harassers and asked them to stop.

Harassment of skaters
Thirty females indicated they had experienced harassment or possible harassment while they were skaters, in addition to seven males.

Experiences of others
All respondents were invited to answer the last four questions on the survey, which dealt with observations they may have made about the harassment experiences of others at their rink or facility. Forty-eight out of 182 respondents indicated that they had, or possibly had, observed someone else at their rink being sexually harassed. A similar number (46) indicated that someone had told them they had suffered prior sexual harassment by someone else involved in the sport. Forty-six respondents said they had heard second-hand reports about someone at their rink being sexually harassed by someone else at their rink (with another 16 answering "possibly/not sure" to this question). Thirteen respondents said they had intervened in a sexual harassment situation at their facility involving someone else.


A complete count of all responses can be found here.


Summaries of responses

The following are summaries of responses received on the survey where the respondents answered "Yes" or "Possibly (not sure)" to the question, Do you believe you have ever been the victim of sexual harassment by someone else involved in skating? The definition of "sexual harassment" was derived from the Canadian Figure Skating Association's Member Harassment Policy, which characterizes "harassment" as including written or verbal abuse or threats; the display of visual material which is offensive (such as pornographic material); unwelcome remarks, jokes, comments, innuendo, taunting or questions about one's looks, body, gender or sexual orientation; unwanted physical contact (such as touching, pinching or kissing); unwelcome sexual flirtations, requests or propositions for sexual activity, whether indirect or explicit; or unwanted sexual activity or sexual assault.

Respondents to the survey who reported harassment, or possible harassment, were asked to characterize the harassment as one or more of the following:

  • Sexually suggestive comments, insults, propositions or threats
  • Unwelcome physical contact (touching, pinching, kissing, etc)
  • Harassing phone calls or letters
  • Unwelcome sexual activity or assault


The summaries are printed in the order the responses were received, with those answering "yes" listed first.

Summary of responses

  1. A male skater over 18 indicated he has experienced harassment from another skater his own age in the form of " sexually suggestive comments, insults, propositions or threats." He reports avoiding the person and that he has stopped working i n skating or competing as a result of this harassment. He reports that he did not find anyone to be helpful or responsive about his problem.

  2. A female skater indicated she is currently experiencing harassment from a skater her own age which began when she was 20. She feels that her skating opportunities will suffer unless she tolerates the harassment. She indicated the harassment has ta ken the form of "sexually suggestive comments, insults, propositions or threats"; "unwelcome physical contact "; and "harassing phone calls or letters." She reported she has avoided the person, and also told a friend. She indicated that she found that not everyone she approached about the problem was helpful or responsive.

  3. A female judge or referee indicated she experienced harassment as a 13-year-old skater from another skater her own age. The harassment took the form of "unwelcome physical contact." She responded by confronting the person and telling her parents, a nd reported she received a helpful and responsive reaction from those she approached about the problem.

  4. A female club official reported she experienced harassment in the past by a judge or referee. She indicated the harassment took the form of ""unwelcome physical contact" and "harassing phone calls or letters." She indicated that she did not approach anyone for help about the harassment, and that she stopped working in skating as a result of this harassment.

  5. A female judge or referee indicated she experienced harassment as a skater in her late teens and early 20's. The harassment took the form of "sexually suggestive comments, insults, propositions or threats" and "harassing phone calls or letters." She confronted the person and also told a friend. She reported that she experienced retaliation for trying to avoid or complain about the harassment. She indicated that her harasser was someone involved in skating "Other" than a coach, chore ographer, physical trainer/therapist, club official, judge, agent/promoter or skater.

  6. A female skater under 18 reported that she experienced harassment on different occasions, initially at age 6, and that she is also currently experiencing harassment. She indicated that she had experienced harassment both from a skater older than her , and from an instructor at her rink (not her own coach). The harassment took the form of "sexually suggestive comments, insults, propositions or threats" and "unwelcome physical contact." She indicated she had not approached anyone else for help about the harassment.

  7. A female skater under 18 indicated harassment in the form of "sexually suggestive comments, insults, propositions or threats" and "unwelcome physical contact " by a club or rink official beginning when she was 10. She felt that her career, lessons o r skating opportunities would suffer unless she tolerated the harassment, and indicated she experienced retaliation for trying to avoid or complaining about it. She avoided the harasser and indicated that she did not receive a helpful response from anyon e about the situation.

  8. A male skater over 18 reported he was harassed starting at the age of 12 by his coach or instructor and also by an older skater. The harassment took the form of "sexually suggestive comments, insults, propositions or threats." He indicated he felt his career, lessons or skating opportunities would suffer unless he tolerated the harassment. He took no action in response to the harassment and indicated he did not approach anyone for help about the situation(s).

  9. A female skater under 18 indicated she was harassed by a coach or instructor at her rink (not her own current coach). The harassment took the form of "unwelcome physical contact." She told her parents and a friend, and stopped working with the pers on. She indicated that she found that some of the people she approached about the problem were not helpful or responsive.

  10. A 17-year-old female skater/instructor indicated she has experienced harassment from her coach or instructor. The harassment took the form of "unwelcome physical contact" and "harassing phone calls or letters." She felt that her career, lessons or skating opportunities would suffer unless she tolerated the harassment. She took no action in response.

  11. A female skater under 18 reported she experienced harassment in the form of "unwelcome physical contact" from a judge or referee when she was 15. She felt that her career, lessons or skating opportunities would suffer unless she tolerated the har assment. She indicated that she responded by avoiding the person, and that she did not receive a helpful response from anyone about the situation.

  12. A male former professional skating performer indicated he was harassed by his coach or instructor, a club or rink official, and also a skater his own age. He first experienced harassment at age 17. He reported "sexually suggestive comments, insul ts, propositions or threats" and "unwelcome sexual activity or assault." He felt his career, lessons or skating opportunities would suffer unless he tolerated the harassment. He told a friend, but did not approach anyone for help about the situation(s) .

  13. A female coach or instructor reported she was harassed as an 8-year-old skater ("unwelcome physical contact") by a skater older than her. She took no action in response to the harassment and did not approach anyone for help.

  14. A male former skater indicated he was harassed at age 16 by his coach or instructor. The harassment took the form of "sexually suggestive comments, insults, propositions or threats" and "unwelcome physical contact" He felt his career, lessons or skating opportunities would suffer unless he tolerated the harassment and reported that he experienced retaliation for trying to avoid it or complain about it. He indicated that did not receive a helpful response from anyone about the situation.

  15. A female skater reported "sexually suggestive comments, insults, propositions or threats" by coaches or instructors at different locations, including her own coach, beginning when she was 18. She avoided her harassers and indicated that sh e had not approached anyone for help about the situations.

  16. A female skater under 18 indicated she has experienced harassment from her coach or instructor, which began when she was 15. The harassment has taken the form of "sexually suggestive comments, insults, propositions or threats" and "harassing phone c alls or letters." She indicated that she felt that her career, lessons or skating opportunities would suffer unless she tolerated the harassment, and that she has experienced retaliation for trying to avoid or complain about it. She told a friend, and stopped working with the person. She reported that she received a helpful response from those she told about the situation.

  17. A female skater currently over 18 indicated that she experienced harassment in the form of "sexually suggestive comments, insults, propositions or threats" on different occasions from skater(s) her own age. She indicated that she felt her career, le ssons or skating opportunities would suffer unless she tolerated it, and that she experienced retaliation for trying to avoid or complain about it. She has told a friend about the harassment.

  18. A female coach/instructor in her late 20's indicated she is currently experiencing harassment by another coach or instructor at her facility, which began when she was a skater. The harassment has taken the form of "sexually suggestive comments, in sults, propositions or threats" and "unwelcome physical contact" She told a friend, and avoided the person. She indicated that she has not approached anyone for help about the situation.

  19. A female skater under 18 reported she experienced harassment starting at age 15 by a judge or referee in the form of "sexually suggestive comments, insults, propositions or threats," "unwelcome physical contact" and "harassing phone calls or letters. " She felt her career, lessons or skating opportunities would suffer unless she tolerated the harassment. She indicated that she did not approach anyone for help about the situation.

  20. A male skater under 18 reported that he experienced harassment from his coach or instructor starting at age 11, and that the harassment took the form of "harassing phone calls or letters," "unwelcome physical contact" and "unwelcome sexual activity or assault." He indicated that he felt his career, lessons or skating opportunities would suffer unless he tolerated the behavior, and also that he was subject to retaliation if he tried to avoid or complain about the situation. He indicated that did no t receive a helpful response from anyone about the situation. He reported that he confronted his harasser and asked the person to stop.

  21. A female coach or instructor indicated she was harassed as a skater by her coach or instructor, beginning at age 12 or 13. She experienced "unwelcome sexual activity or assault" and felt her career, lessons or skating opportunities would suffer unle ss she tolerated the behavior. She also reported she was subject to retaliation if she tried to avoid or complain about the situation. She told her parents and a friend, stopped working with the person, and filed criminal charges or a civil lawsuit. She indicated that not everyone she approached was helpful and responsive about her situation.

  22. A female skater under 18 reported she was harassed from age 12 to 15 by a skater older than her. She indicated the harassment took the form of "sexually suggestive comments, insults, propositions or threats," "unwelcome physical contact" and "unwelc ome sexual activity or assault." She reported that she felt her career, lessons or skating opportunities would suffer unless she tolerated the harassment, and that she was subject to retaliation if she tried to avoid or complain about the situation. S he indicated that she took no action in response to the harassment.

  23. A female skater over 18 indicated that she was harassed from the age of 15 to 17 by her coach or instructor. The harassment took the form of "sexually suggestive comments, insults, propositions or threats" and "unwelcome physical contact." She rep orted that she took no action in response to the harassment.

  24. A female skater under 18 indicated "possible" current harassment, which may have began when she was 16, by a number of people, including her coach, another coach, a judge or referee, and an agent or promoter. She reported the harassment took the f orm of "sexually suggestive comments, insults, propositions or threats," "harassing phone calls or letters," "unwelcome physical contact" and "unwelcome sexual activity or assault." She indicated that she felt her career, lessons or skating opportunities would suffer unless she tolerated the situation(s), and that she experienced retaliation for trying to avoid or complain about it. She indicated that she has taken no action in response to the possible harassment.

  25. A female skater reported she was "possibly" harassed by an older skater beginning at age 15. The harassment took the form of "sexually suggestive comments, insults, propositions or threats" and "unwelcome physical contact." She indicated that she c onfronted the person and told a friend, and avoided and stopped working with the person. She reported that she received a helpful response from only some of the people she approached for help.

  26. A female coach/instructor indicated she was "possibly" harassed by an older skater when she was a young adolescent skater. The possible harassment took the form of "unwelcome physical contact." She took no action in response to the situation.

  27. A female skater under 18 reported she was "possibly" harassed by an older skater in the form of "sexually suggestive comments, insults, propositions or threats." She told her parents and indicated she received a helpful response from those she appr oached about the situation.

  28. A female skater under 18 indicated she was "possibly" harassed by her physical trainer or therapist at a previous location or facility. She took no action in response to the situation.

  29. A female skater under 18 indicated she received "sexually suggestive comments, insults, propositions or threats" at age 16 and characterized it as "possible" harassment. She told a friend, and avoided the person. She reported that she received a he lpful response from those she approached. She indicated that her possible harasser was someone involved in skating "Other" than a coach, choreographer, therapist, club or rink official, agent/promoter, judge/referee or skater.

  30. A female skater indicated she is "possibly" currently experiencing harassment by a coach or instructor at her facility (not her own coach) which began when she was 18. The possible harassment took the form of "sexually suggestive comments, insults, propositions or threats" and "unwelcome physical contact." She avoided the person and indicated she has not approached anyone for help about the situation.

  31. A female skater under 18 indicated she "possibly" experienced or is experiencing harassment, but gave no other details in her response.

  32. A female skater under 18 reported she "possibly" experienced harassment at age 15 by a coach or instructor at her facility in the form of "sexually suggestive comments, insults, propositions or threats." She took no action in response to this and i ndicated she had not approached anyone for help about the situation.

  33. A 17-year-old female skater indicated she "possibly" experienced harassment by an older skater in the form of "sexually suggestive comments, insults, propositions or threats" and "harassing phone calls or letters." She reported that she experienced retaliation for trying to avoid or complain about it. She indicated that she told a friend, confronted the person, avoided the person and stopped working with him/her, and that she received a helpful response from those she approached about the situatio n.

  34. A female skater/instructor under 18 reported she "possibly" experienced harassment, but gave no other details in her response.

  35. A female skater indicated she "possibly" experienced harassment at age 26 in the form of "sexually suggestive comments, insults, propositions or threats." She indicated her possible harasser was someone involved in skating "Other" than a coach, chor eographer, physical trainer, club/rink official, agent/promoter, judge/referee or skater. She told a friend about the situation, but indicated she did not approach anyone for help.

  36. A female skater under 18 reported she "possibly" experienced harassment, but gave no other details in her response.

  37. A female coach/instructor indicated she "possibly" was harassed by her instructor when she was a skater, in her 30's at the time. The harassment took the form of "sexually suggestive comments, insults, propositions or threats" and "unwelcome physical contact." She stopped working with this person and indicated she did not approach anyone for help about the situation.

  38. A female skater in her 50's indicated she "possibly" experienced harassment by a coach or instructor at her current facility in the form of "sexually suggestive comments, insults, propositions or threats." She avoided the person and indicated she did not approach anyone for help about the situation.

  39. A male skater indicated he "possibly" was harassed at age 19 by another skater his age, in the form of "unwanted physical contact." He confronted the person, and indicated he received a helpful response from those he approached about the situation.

  40. A female skater under 18 indicated "possible" harassment by her coach or instructor in the form of "sexually suggestive comments, insults, propositions or threats." She confronted the person, told a friend, and reported that she received a helpful r esponse from those she approached for help.

  41. A male skater reported "possible" harassment, in the form of "sexually suggestive comments, insults, propositions or threats" and "unwanted physical contact," when he was 21. He indicated that the person was someone involved in skating "Other" than a coach, choreographer, physical therapist, club/rink official, agent/promoter, judge/referee, or skater. He confronted the person and indicated he received a helpful response from those he approached.

  42. A 17-year-old female skater indicated "possible" harassment, but gave no other details in her response.

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