Sexual violence in organized sport in Germany

Sexualisierte Gewalt im organisierten Sport in Deutschland

Abstract

Although the topic of sexual violence in sport has gained considerable attention in recent years, prevalence rates of sexual violence experience in German athletes are not yet available. Therefore, the current study aimed to address this by assessing prevalence rates in a comprehensive sample of German elite athletes. Overall, 1529 German elite athletes over 16 years of age from 128 different sports took part in an online survey. Mean age was 21.6 years; 56% were female. Participants were presented with seventeen different sexual violence situations (from sexist jokes to forced penetration) and asked to indicate how often they had experienced each particular situation in the sport setting. Results revealed that 37.6% of the athletes had experienced at least one sexual violence situation in organized sport; 11.2% reported a severe form of sexual violence. Female athletes were affected significantly more often than male athletes, and persons with a sexual orientation other than heterosexual more often than heterosexuals. No significant differences could be found with regard to age, level of performance, type of sports, dis-/ability or migration background of the athletes. These results indicate that sexual violence is a problem that needs to be addressed across elite sports in Germany. Prevention concepts need to be developed and applied across sports contexts.

Zusammenfassung

Obwohl sexualisierte Gewalt im Sport in den letzten Jahren beträchtlich an Aufmerksamkeit gewonnen hat, sind noch keine Daten zur Prävalenz sexualisierter Gewalterfahrungen unter deutschen Sportler*innen verfügbar. Ziel der vorliegenden Studie war es daher, die Prävalenz anhand einer umfassenden Stichprobe deutscher Spitzensportler*innen zu ermitteln. Insgesamt 1529 deutsche Kadersportler*innen über 16 Jahren aus 128 verschiedenen Sportarten nahmen an einer Online-Befragung teil. Das Durchschnittsalter betrug 21,6 Jahre; 56% waren weiblich. Den Teilnehmenden wurden 17 verschiedene Situationen sexualisierter Gewalt geschildert (von sexistischen Witzen bis zur erzwungenen Penetration). Sie wurden gebeten anzugeben, wie oft sie die einzelnen Situationen im Umfeld des organisierten Sports erfahren hatten. Wie die Befragung ergab, hatten 37,6% der Sportler*innen mindestens eine Situation sexualisierter Gewalt im organisierten Sport erlebt; 11,2% gaben schwere oder länger andauernde sexualisierte Gewalt an. Sportlerinnen waren signifikant häufiger betroffen als Sportler, und Personen mit einer nicht heterosexuellen Orientierung häufiger als Heterosexuelle. Keine signifikanten Unterschiede fanden sich in Bezug auf Alter, Leistungsniveau, Sportart, Behinderungsstatus oder Migrationshintergrund der Sportler*innen. Die Ergebnisse zeigen, dass sexualisierte Gewalt ein Problem ist, das in allen Bereichen des deutschen Spitzensports angegangen werden sollte. Präventionskonzepte müssen entwickelt und auf den verschiedene Kontexte im Sport angewendet werden.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    In the German sport system, elite athletes are classified into four different squads. The highest level is the A squad. This is the national team that represents Germany in international competition. Athletes of the A squad are not always professional athletes, but almost always receive some federal funding for their sport. The B squad is the extension of the A squad, comprising athletes who are likely to make the A squad in the future. B squad athletes receive less financial support for their sport. In most German sport federations, the C squad is the highest squad for junior athletes. The D/C or D squad athletes are junior athletes below the C squad, mostly organized into federal state squads (Landeskader) rather than countrywide.

  2. 2.

    As we used an online questionnaire for this study, and participants were not forced to answer every question, the number of participants is lower than the total sample because of missing values.

  3. 3.

    In Germany, the government uses sport promotion groups as a means of supporting elite athletes in their career. Sport promotion groups belong to the German army or police, and have a special arrangement for elite athletes regarding training facilities and off-times for taking part in training camps and competitions.

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Funding

This study was supported by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (Grant FKZ 01SR 1401XY).

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Correspondence to Dr. Jeannine Ohlert.

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J. Ohlert, C. Seidler, T. Rau, B. Rulofs and M. Allroggen declare that they have no competing interests. There are no financial or other relationships that might lead to a conflict of interest.

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

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Ohlert, J., Seidler, C., Rau, T. et al. Sexual violence in organized sport in Germany. Ger J Exerc Sport Res 48, 59–68 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12662-017-0485-9

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Keywords

  • Sexual harassment
  • Sexual abuse
  • Interpersonal violence
  • Squad athletes
  • Female athletes

Schlüsselwörter

  • Sexuelle Belästigung
  • Sexueller Missbrauch
  • Zwischenmenschliche Gewalt
  • Kadersportler*innen
  • Sportlerinnen