USA cyclist Missy Erickson goes public with sexual abuse she says started at age 17
ALEXANDRIA — Alexandria native and Jefferson High School graduate Missy Erickson is one of the top sprint cyclists in the United States.
She has six national championships, 35 international wins and made a strong run at making the summer Olympics in 2016. Cycling has taken her all over the world, but on Jan. 4, Erickson went public with a story alleging sexual, verbal and emotional abuse she says started at the age of 17.
Erickson, now 26 and living in Pennsylvania, detailed her allegationsin a story published on www.bicycling.com and also in a piece through Jorge Newbery’s blog at huffingtonpost.com.
She does not name the man she says abused her.
“The emotional abuse was constant,” Erickson wrote. “He was possessive of me, texting and calling and demanding to know where I was. … Eventually, I felt like I was so far into it that there was nowhere to go. I accepted it as my fate and my fault. I accepted that speaking out would cause more problems than good.”
Erickson writes that she developed an eating disorder and detailed two times she tried to commit suicide at the age of 18.
“I told my abuser I wanted him to stop shortly after I attempted suicide for the first time,” she wrote. “I was afraid he would get violent, because he was so angry.”
Erickson writes that she didn’t want to be known as the cyclist who was sexually abused, which is one reason why she didn’t talk about it for so long.
“If this can help someone, or if it makes someone feel like they can reach out to me for help, then it’s worth it,” she writes of going public with her story. “If I could give my 17-year-old self some advice, it would be to get help. Nothing is going to change unless you do. And I’d tell her that what’s happening is not your fault. For so long I believed it was my fault, and that I allowed this to happen. But it’s not your fault. It’s never your fault.”
Erickson posted links to both the bicycling.com and Huffington Post stories on her Facebook page on Wednesday. On Thursday morning, she wrote a post to her followers, thanking them for their support, along with another message for others who have dealt with or are going through similar circumstances.
“If you are suffering from an eating disorder, thoughts of suicide, or abuse in any form, please do not hide,” Erickson wrote. “You don't have to suffer alone. There is help and protection available to you. And people who love and care for you. For those who know of anyone in any of these situations, please be the voice they need, and step forward. You might just save a life.”