Former Cal Coach Kristen Lewis Cunnane’s New Book Seeks To Help Other Abuse Victims

by John Durham 19

April 17th, 2019 College, Industry, News, Pac-12

Kristen Lewis Cunnane has had many different titles over the years.

She’s been the Cal women’s associate head coach for national championship teams. She’s been a former Academic All-American at UCLA and has competed at Olympic Trials. She’s a mother and a wife.

And as of this April, she can add published author to that list too.

Cunnane’s book titled Undoing Jane Doe is her account of how she was able to put her sexually abusive middle school gym teacher, Julie Correa, behind bars for an eight year prison sentence. But the book for Cunnane, and for others she hopes, is much more than that.

“I’m hopeful that the book will help people who have been through similar things or have had people in their life go through similar things,” Cunnane said. “But also I think it speaks to the power of a strong swim team and how a team can help members whether it’s coaches, staff, or athletes, how that team can help us all go through difficult things in life that really have nothing to do with swimming fast.”

The book features a forward by Cal women’s head coach Teri McKeever, who Cunnane said came to the preliminary hearing and sentencing during her case. Former Cal swimmers and Olympians Missy Franklin and Natalie Coughlin also wrote testimonials in the book.  

Cunnane has said how much being around those Cal swim teams for so many years has helped here heal from the terrible events of her past. Writing the book has been a healing process for her too.

That writing first began back in the police office when Cunnane went to report what had happened and she was asked to give details and exact memories with specific instances.

“I used those when, my abuse was so thorough and so much that it was hard to go into a therapist office and heal,” Cunnane said. “I came in and I used those instances to explain how severe it was. That’s what, that’s kind of how the book started, just going to police and those were the beginnings of a lot of the chapters.”

The title for her book was sparked by one of the most powerful moments she had throughout this ordeal. While she admitted that when she first came to report of what Correa had done to her, Cunnane said she didn’t mind being classified as an anonymous Jane Doe. But then as she went through the entire process, being a Jane Doe frustrated her.

“I’m hiding behind Jane Doe and it kind of enraged me,” Cunnane said, “I decided that I was going to use my name because I’m not the one who should be ashamed of anything … Just the idea of undoing Jane Doe and undoing the stigma and the silence of sexual abuse for me became kind of my rallying cry. They, the predators, want their victims to be silent, they want us to be shameful, they want us to be Jane Doe.”

While Cunnane is a busy mother with three children who are five years and under, she is going to continue to get up and tell her story in the hopes to help others. She went to a child abuse prevention luncheon on Friday where she was asked to speak.

Recently a friend of hers asked Cunnane if she was nervous to speak in front for a crowd of 300 people. But Cunnane, the mother, wife, former swimmer, coach, and now author, said she wasn’t.

“This isn’t about me, it’s about making this awful thing happen less,” Cunnane said. “We have to do something about this. The amount of people that I’ve had come to me and say this happened to me, this happened to my brother, this happened to my cousin and he ended up killing himself … I’m willing to do anything to help this go away. If an article or a book or a speech, if it helps a teeny tiny bit, if it helps one person, then it’s 100% worth it.”

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Well written article about a strong woman!

Pack Mack

Good for her. Promote awareness & healing.

Hint of Lime

Thank you Kristen, and all other survivors, for your bravery and strength in sharing your story and continuing to positively impact others.

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