Table 1

Definition of terms

Interpersonal violence/abuseWhile terminology varies, in this manuscript, we have chosen to use both ‘interpersonal violence’ and ‘abuse’ to represent all forms of athlete abuse including neglect, as well as psychological, physical and sexual harassment and abuse. Interpersonal violence/abuse can be readily apparent to others (eg, physical and sexual abuse) or less readily apparent to others (eg, harassment, financial abuse and disability stigma).3 4 8 Interpersonal violence/abuse may occur between friends, family, acquaintances or people who do not know each other.28 The decision to use ‘interpersonal violence’ and ‘abuse’ as summary terms was determined by expert panel consensus and with reference to three sources.4 29 30
Para athlete/sportPer branding best practices outlined by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) in 2016, the term ‘Para’ (capital P, no trailing hyphen) refers to three key elements: (1) it refers to non-Paralympic Games events or activities and is used in a non-Paralympic Games context; (2) the event, activity or person must fall under the jurisdiction of the IPC or an IPC member (ie, IPC-sanctioned sports participants) and (3) the event, activity or person must be governed by the requirements of the IPC Athlete Classification Code.31 In this manuscript, we have chosen to use the term ‘para’ (lowercase p) to represent our cohort, as most but not all participate in sports events that fall under the jurisdiction of the IPC or an IPC member.
SafeguardingIn the context of sport, safeguarding refers to the process of promoting the welfare of sport participants and providing safe environments in which to play and compete by protecting them from harassment and abuse, among other things. This includes ensuring that sport participants have knowledge of and access to safe and effective means of reporting and responding to harassment and abuse.19
NeglectWhile neglect is commonly discussed in the context of children as the failure to meet a child’s physical and emotional needs or failure to protect a child from exposure to danger, in this paper we use this term to refer to the failure of coaches and athlete entourages to effectively meet athletes’ needs.4 This may include the denial of access to appropriate medical care, equipment and rules and policies that constitute both physical and psychological abuse.4
Financial abuseWe define financial abuse as restricting access to essential monetary resources and therefore denying the means to improve a person’s economic status, with the intention to reinforce or create economic instability.32
Disability stigmaWe use the term disability stigma to refer to pervasive negative attitudes and beliefs about people with disabilities. Disability stigma is frequently the result of cultural beliefs around disability, including that disability is associated with curses, karma, disease, dependence, helplessness and incompetence. Disability stigma can manifest in many ways, including avoidance, stereotyping, discrimination, condescension, blaming and violence, among others.33
AbleismAbleism refers to attitudes and beliefs in society in which non-disabled people are ‘normal’, thereby devaluing and limiting the potential of people with disabilities. Ableism typically underpins disability stigma and results in the disregard of people with disabilities in society. Ableism can be unconscious and frequently manifests in the creation of inaccessible physical environments and social conventions that are designed with a non-disabled person in mind.27