Swedish golfer Madelene Sagstrom has revealed she was sexually abused as a child and said confiding in her mentor was the ‘biggest release’ and helped her overcome the trauma.
Sagstrom, ranked 62nd in the world, said she was seven years old when she was abused by an adult male friend in Sweden. She kept it secret for 16 years.
The 28-year-old said she ‘felt free’ when she first shared her story in 2016 with her mentor Robert Karlson and it was a ‘big reason’ why she won three tournaments in the same year.
The golfer said she hopes that by speaking out she may help others in the process.
Swedish golfer Madelene Sagstrom has revealed she was sexually abused as a child and said confiding in her mentor was the ‘biggest release’ and helped her overcome the trauma
Sagstrom, ranked 62nd in the world, said she was seven-years-old when she was abused by an adult male friend in Sweden. She kept it secret for 16 years. Pictured: Sagstrom as a child (left) with her brother
Sagstrom revealed that she spent much of her early years with her brother and their close friends, who were much older.
‘One day, I was by myself going over to see my friend, a man I was really close to but who was not a relative,’ she told the LGPA Tour. ‘I went inside. We hung out. And he sexually abused me. I was seven years old.’
‘For 16 years, I acted like nothing ever happened,’ she explained. ‘For years, I immersed myself in golf. Golf became my saviour – I could lose myself in the game. And when I played well, I was okay.
‘What I didn’t realise is that I simply did not like who I was. I didn’t like who I saw in the mirror.’
Sagstrom confessed: ‘I couldn’t even put body lotion on my legs because of how much I hated by body, hated myself, all because of what someone else did to me.
‘I never wanted to acknowledge the assault, to myself or anyone else.’
The 28-year-old (pictured in February last year) said she ‘felt free’ when she first shared her story in 2016 with her mentor Robert Karlson and it was a ‘big reason’ why she won three tournaments in the same year
But Sagstrom bravely told her mentor Karlsson, a former Ryder Cup player who she had met through the Swedish national team, about the abuse in a hotel room in Greenwood, South Carolina, where she was staying to prepare for a Symetra Tour event.
‘As he looked at me, with a mixture of shock and empathy on his face, my entire world broke down,’ she said. ‘I wept uncontrollably. Sixteen years of secrets poured out with each tear and every heaving gasp.
‘Telling Robert was the biggest release I’ve ever had. It made me feel free. It’s a big reason why I won three times in 2016 and earned my LPGA Tour card. I didn’t feel like I was hiding anymore.’
Sagstrom later decided she needed to tell her parents about the abuse, describing it as ‘one of the worst days of my life’.
‘They took it really hard,’ she said. ‘I mean, how do you ever take that news? But telling them brought us closer.’
She later told the rest of her family and others around her, which she described as the ‘start of a new chapter’ in her life.
‘I had no idea how being sexually abused by a man I trusted affected me, she said. ‘All those years, I blamed myself. I hated myself. I despised my body and hurt myself both mentally and physically.
‘The day I shared my secret, all my walls broke down,’ she said. ‘Finding my voice and courage to share my experience has taken time. Survivorship is a continuous process.
‘If I touch one life by telling my story, it will all be worth it.’