Hong Kong hurdler Vera Lui Lai-yiu has said that she was sexually assaulted by her former coach when she was a junior secondary school student. The coach in question was suspended by the school this month.
In a Facebook post posted at midnight Thursday, Lui said that she was assaulted by “Coach Y” – whom she met during a school extra-curricular activity – when she was around 13 to 14 years old.
Lui said that on a Saturday afternoon, she received a call from the coach asking if she experienced muscle tension after the previous week’s practice. He said he could give her a massage: “A massage, from an athlete’s point of view, is absolutely normal,” she said.
According to Lui, he told her that it was difficult for him to give a massage at the sports ground and so suggested his house. Lui said, as a secondary school student who respected her coach and saw him as a professional, she agreed. She said she saw nothing wrong with the request.
Lui said the coach then asked her to lie down on the bed, and told her to take her jeans off, saying it was difficult for him to conduct a massage otherwise: “I trusted him, so it did not cross my mind that he would do something despicable to his student. He then continued his so-called ‘massage’. Finally, he took off my jeans and my underwear, and touched my private parts.”
Lui said that she plucked up the courage to talk about the incident in order to raise awareness of sexual assault against children, to encourage other victims to speak out, and to allow the public to understand that such issues were not something to be embarrassed or ashamed of.
#metoo我被我的前教練性侵犯。 今年暑假，我看到台灣女作家林奕含案件，我很有衝動我小時候的不愉快經歷，但我沒有勇氣。數個月前，倫奧體操金牌女將 McKayla Maroney 於社交媒體自白被隊醫性侵犯的經歷，這念頭再次萌起…
Lui also said that she was inspired by Olympic gymnast McKayla Maroney, who recently accused a USA Gymnastics team physician of sexual abuse. She said that, although she did not know of any similar incidents, she believed that there were other victims in Hong Kong sport, and encouraged them to seek help.
The post was made on her 23rd birthday: “Speaking the truth is cathartic, and is a transition on my part from being a victim to a survivor. This is my birthday present to myself.” Lui also urged others to share the passage to carry on the spirit of the #metoo hashtag of sharing stories of sexual abuse, which was initiated by activist Tarana Burke in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal.
In a statement released on Thursday morning, Lui’s alma mater Pui Ching Middle School said that they were deeply saddened and expressed condemnation towards those who sexually assault children. It also said that Lui contacted the school about the incident three weeks ago and the relevant coach has since been suspended.
Lawmaker Elizabeth Quat said that Lui was extremely brave. “Sexually assaulting children… is a very serious offence, and I believe that the sports circle and the police should actively investigate the incident.” She also said it was everyone’s responsibility to protect children.
Sports, Performing Arts, Culture and Publication sector lawmaker Ma Fung-kwok said he received an anonymous letter several weeks ago stating that an athlete had been sexually assaulted, but the letter did not reveal the identity of the victim.
Lui took home a gold medal at the 60m women’s hurdles during the 2017 Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan earlier this year.