Kat O’Brien covered the Texas Rangers for a number of years for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. She later went on to cover baseball for New York Newsday before leaving sports reporting.
The New York Times has an essay from her today about her experience being raped by an MLB player in 2002, when she was 22 years old, a year out of Notre Dame and interviewing him for a story.
She talks about not telling anyone, fearing it would ruin her career, blaming herself for what happened. About having the pain and trauma dredged back up in the aftermath of the Jared Porter stories and firing this winter.
And she also talks about the culture throughout the game when she was covering it, about being accused of sleeping with a team executive to get her job with the Star-Telegram, about players and coaches making inappropriate comments to her, about colleagues suggesting that she was sleeping with players.
I’d encourage you to read the entire thing, but I in particular want to quote a portion at the end, where she talks about why she made the decision to go public:
Why talk about this now? Since mid-January I’ve had nightmares. For weeks, I was crying off and on every day. My chest pounds in fight or flight. I’ve had to stop in the middle of a run because I hyperventilate as memories rush back.
In the last few months I’ve told a few people my story. The first two men I told (both people I am close to) first pledged that they believed me, acknowledged that what happened was horrifying and not my fault, and in the next moment asked, “But you really couldn’t get away?” They might as well have cut me with a knife. I tell no one for 18 years out of shame and self-blame, and now you ask me if I couldn’t have gotten away? From a professional athlete who weighed 70 or 80 pounds more than me?
Ultimately, I decided that I needed to say this aloud, and put my voice to a movement that needs all the voices it can get. I wish things had changed dramatically in the last decade, but the stories of harassment and mistreatment that have emerged recently suggest otherwise. What I feared losing before — my job in sports journalism — is long gone. But I have found my voice.