Aly Raisman, 23, isn’t going to be afraid of any man. Or standing up for what’s right.
This is why the U.S. Olympic gymnast is speaking out about the dozens of allegations of sexual abuse by former national team doctor Larry Nassar.
What exactly happened? According to Associated Press, Nassar “spent nearly 30 years as an osteopath with the USA Gymnastics program and is now in prison in Michigan after pleading guilty to possession of child pornography. He is awaiting trial on separate criminal sexual conduct charges, in addition to being sued by more than 125 women who claim he sexually assaulted them under the guise of treatment.”
Raisman, being a gymnast, often came in contact with him over the years. While she has not personally commented on whether he abused her or not in the past, she did call him “a monster,” and also blamed the USA Gymnastics for allowing the scandal to be swept “under the rug.”
She went on to say, “I feel like there’s a lot of articles about it, but nobody has said, ‘This is horrible, this is what we’re doing to change.'” She added:
“What people don’t realize is that this doctor was a doctor for 29 years. Whether or not he did it to a gymnast, they still knew him. Even if he didn’t do it to you, it’s still the trauma and the anxiety of wondering what could have happened. I think that needs to be addressed. These girls, they should be comfortable going to USA Gymnastics and saying: ‘I need help, I want therapy. I need this.'”
In response to these allegations, the USA Gymnastics spearheaded a review of its policies, which the Indianapolis Star reported that “chronic mishandling of abuse allegations against coaches and staff” occurred in about 3,500 clubs in the U.S. They also issued a statement, saying, “We are taking this issue head-on, and we want to work with Aly and all interested athletes to keep athletes safe.”
In her remarks, Raisman also pointed out that former president Steve Penny received $1 million severance package, which she critiqued:
“I thought, ‘Wow, why couldn’t they create a program?’ A million dollars is a lot of money. They could do a lot of things to create change. They could create a program. They could even contact all the families that have come forward and say, ‘Can we help your kid with therapy?’
Everyone is important. It doesn’t matter if you’re the Olympic champion or you’re an 8-year-old that goes to gymnastics in Ohio, or wherever you are in the U.S. Every single kid is important and I want USA Gymnastics to do a better job with that.”
Taking an active stand against sexual assault and abuse is critical to companies, institutions, and the law to give justice to survivors, and protect people from these kinds of abuses in the first place.
If we don’t, whether we are survivors or not, who will?