Former Olympic swimmer Katherine Starr starts Safe4Athletes to help fellow abuse victims
By Christian Red / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Katherine Starr was at a crossroads last April, professionally and personally, when she says she began brainstorming: as a previous victim of sexual abuse in sports, how could she help make a positive impact on addressing the issue?
This was months before the names Jerry Sandusky, Bernie Fine and other coaching/sports figures were strewn across the headlines, before the tidal wave of media coverage about horrific cases of alleged sexual abuse at Penn State, Syracuse and other iconic sports programs.
"I was barely coaching," says Starr, a former member of the British Olympic swimming team for the 1984 and '88 Summer Games. "But I had a strong sense that nothing had changed."
Starr, 44, was decades removed from her own traumatic experiences of being sexually abused, but the physical and psychological scars continued to exact a toll. She battled alcohol abuse - although she has been sober now for over 13 years; had a fractured relationship with her late father due to the dark secrets she kept to herself; to this day, Starr admits to having "commitment issues."
She ultimately changed her birth name, Annabelle Cripps, to Katherine Starr so she could "wake up in the morning and feel free."