Sarah Abitbol

More than two years ago, on January 30, 2020, Sarah Abitbol published a book that would forever change the world of figure skating and sport more generally. In “Un si long silence” (Plon), of which this Wednesday, May 11 France 2 offers a documentary version, the former glory of French ice cream, helped by journalist Emmanuelle Anizon, told there with great detail and intensity her rape at the age of 15 by her trainer. She lifted the veil on a taboo, she pointed the finger at a world plagued by omerta. Today, she agreed to tell Télé Loisirs about the aftermath of this Tsunami which moved the lines and freed the voices of many.

Télé Loisirs Was it easy for you to take part in this documentary?

Sarah Abitbol. No, because it brought back terrible memories. I cried a lot, especially when watching videos of my father who has now disappeared, but especially when rediscovering images of my attacker or rereading passages from my book. It was all very difficult but I had to do it.

TL. A necessary evil that ultimately continues your therapy…

HER. Yes. This film represents the extension of the liberation of my speech. I first found the courage to confide in Emmanuelle (Anizon, co-author of Un si long silence published by Plon and co-author of the film, editor’s note), to make a book and now a documentary. I am progressing little by little but I feel in full rebirth.

TL. It was important to have your mother and your brother with you in the documentary…

HER. Oh yeah ! Because they had never spoken before. It was poignant and courageous of them.

TL. What do you take away from this long journey?

HER. My discomfort is going away and I am especially proud today to help others to speak, in particular through my association*. To denounce is good but to continue the fight by sensitizing the federations, the clubs, the high authorities, it is better. The job is huge.

TL. In order to continue to move the lines, do you work with federations from now on, including that of ice sports led today by Nathalie Pechalat ?

HER. (embarrassed) Have another question? To answer you, I collaborate with many people like the fencing federation, but not yet with my federation. I hope it will change soon! And I work with certain skating clubs where I offer technical expertise and awareness-prevention courses for children. To those who wish, I talk about my experience but always in a positive way so that it doesn’t happen again. I explain in particular what a coach has the right to do to children.

TL. Your 11-year-old daughter is in the documentary. For a long time you feared for her and you were afraid to tell her about what had happened to you…

HER. It wasn’t easy but I finally managed to do it. I spoke to him in simple words. Maybe one day she will read the book? I always have this fear that something will happen to her too…

TL. Is she passionate about a sport?

HER. She knows how to skate but she has very cold windows (laughs)! Her thing is more circus arts. I could see her in the Cirque du Soleil troupe! She is an artist at heart.

TL. Journalist Emmanuelle Anizon co-wrote your book. What does it represent for you?

HER. This extraordinary woman changed my life. She became my friend, an extraordinary confidante. She is my family, I will always be there for her, as she was for me.

TL. And if we had to do it again ?

HER. I will do it again but sooner… You had to have the courage to speak, I had it. But I am not a victim, today I am a champion.

TL.How does your future look?

HER. Under good auspices. I am preparing a show about my life in collaboration with Holiday on ice. To be discovered next year.

*Sarah’s voice in cooperation with the association The voice of the child

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