Gymnast and six-time Olympic medalist Aly Raisman has revealed that she was sexually abused by Dr. Larry Nassar, who worked as the women’s gymnastics national team doctor for years. Raisman revealed the allegations in an interview scheduled to air Sunday on CBS’ “60 Minutes,” as well as in her new book, “Fierce.”
A few months ago, the 23-year-old old spoke out against Nassar and the sexual abuse scandal rocking the gymnastics world, which in many ways, foreshadowed her most recent reveal. At the time, Raisman called him “a monster,” and also blamed the USA Gymnastics, the sports governing body, for allowing the scandal to be swept “under the rug,” adding that the victims were being silenced:
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.”
At this point, Raisman is the second member of the gold medal-winning 2012 Olympic women’s team to accuse Nassar of abuse. Her teammate McKayla Maroney tweeted that Nassar molested her for years this past October.
Assault of any kind is violent act of power, not desire. In the case of underage girls, it’s even viler — particularly at the hands of a medical professional, who took an oath to “do no harm.”
Nassar is now in jail awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty to child pornography charges. According to Time, he is named in more than 100 lawsuits filed by gymnasts and athletes he treated. Time writes that these “suits claim he sexually abused athletes under the guise of medical treatment. Nassar resigned from USA Gymnastics in the summer of 2015.”
Apparently, Raisman reported the abuse to FBI after competing at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janiero in 2016, as an investigation had already begun against him at this point. In the “60 Minutes interview,” she said how she is “angry” and just wants “to create change so [that young girls] never, ever have to go through this.”
USA Gymnastics issued a statement, saying, “USA Gymnastics is very sorry that any athlete has been harmed … we want to work with Aly and all interested athletes to keep athletes safe.”
But those sentiments come too late.
For me as a survivor, it is not only cathartic to see the #MeToo posts and survivors coming out about their abuse, sometimes naming their abusers, but it helps spread awareness about assault and dispel dangerous myths. While it is deeply uncomfortable and unsettling to see and read about these allegations in the news constantly, this conversation and awareness does have the potential to create a better, and less dangerous world for our children. A world in which this happens less, and in which survivors are believed when they come forward about abuse.
Having been there, I can say that it is also OK to take breaks from social media during news events that trigger strong emotions like anxiety, stress, and depression. You can seek out a friend to talk, engage in an activity you find soothing, like listening to music, writing, preparing a meal, or taking a walk. And there’s also professional help out there. The National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-4673, and the support services organization Safe Horizon is at 855-234-1042.