Just as important as the development of educational abuse prevention programs, we recognize our responsibility to provide support and resources to survivors of abuse wherever possible. No one should ever experience abuse while participating in sport, including swimming. Any member who has experienced abuse in connection with their participation in USA Swimming may qualify for the organization’s SwimAssist program.
SwimAssist is USA Swimming’s assistance fund for survivors of abuse. Established in 2014, the goal of SwimAssist is to support survivors with the financial burden of seeking counseling, therapy, or other healing treatment. SwimAssist is available to any current or former USA Swimming member who has suffered abuse perpetrated by an individual who at the time of the harm was (1) a member of USA Swimming and (2) participating in the activities of USA Swimming.
How does SwimAssist work?
A survivor will be asked to identify the perpetrator of the abuse and the year(s) the harm occurred. No other information is required to receive SwimAssist, and receipt of support is not dependent on the survivor’s participation in the U.S. Center for SafeSport’s or USA Swimming’s disciplinary process. USA Swimming is required to report instances of sexual abuse to the appropriate authorities; however, it is up to the survivor whether to pursue further action.
To request SwimAssist, a survivor or their designee can reach out to USA Swimming in several ways:
· Email [email protected];
· Call USA Swimming at 719-866-4578 and ask for USA Swimming Safe Sport staff; or
· If an individual is working with the U.S. Center for Safe Sport, let the Center know of their interest in SwimAssist and the Center will connect you with USA Swimming
No matter how an individual reaches out, USA Swimming staff is available to help them get started.
Selecting a therapist or counseling provider is a very personal process and decision that a survivor should have complete power to make. The survivor and their family will select a provider who they feel is best. USA Swimming can assist in identifying local resources for a survivor but will not have any input or final say in what treatment provider a survivor chooses.
Fees for services will be paid by USA Swimming directly to the provider.
What kinds of treatments does SwimAssist cover?
SwimAssist is set up to accommodate the many ways a survivor may need to heal. There are three levels of SwimAssist:
1. Initial counseling;
2. Ongoing counseling; and
3. Alternative assistance
USA Swimming will work with the survivor, their selected treatment provider, and the SwimAssist Panel to remove barriers to healing and help complete the necessary paperwork that each level of assistance might require.
We appreciate the individuals who have come forward to share their experiences and hope that those who have received SwimAssist have found it helpful to their healing process. If you feel that SwimAssist would benefit you, now or in the future, please reach out. Or for additional information, please go to www.usaswimming.org/protect.
Finally, additional support services in place for survivors include:
· Safe Sport Helpline. For 24/7 crisis support, contact the SafeSport helpline for crisis interventions, referrals and emotional support. This confidential and secure helpline https://www.safesporthelpline.org is operated by RAINN, the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization.
· National Children’s Alliance. NCA represents the national network of Child Advocacy Centers (CAC). CACs host a multidisciplinary team of law enforcement, child protective services, victim advocates and mental health practitioners who investigate instances of child abuse and neglect. Visit www.nationalchildrensalliance.org for more information.
· National Sexual Assault Hotline. This national hotline serves people affected by sexual violence. To search for local centers, visit www.rainn.org/about-national-sexual-assault-telephone-hotline or call the hotline phone number, 800.656.HOPE.
· National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The National Suicide Prevention LifeLine provides a national network of 160 local crisis centers and provides free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Click https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/ for help.