Aly Raisman is one of more than 100 women and girls who said former USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar sexually assaulted them. She wanted to speak at his sentencing hearing, so she wrote a statement and submitted it to the federal judge, who would ultimately determine if the Olympic gymnast could read it in court.
In an entry in The Players’ Tribune, Raisman described the judge’s decision to not allow survivors to read their statements as “upsetting news”, but she wanted others to be able to read it.
Thursday, Nassar – who was also Michigan State’s gymnastics team doctor – was sentenced to 60 years in federal prison on child pornography charges, to which he pleaded guilty.
Along with Raisman, Olympic gymnasts McKayla Maroney, Gabby Douglas and Jamie Dantzscher have also accused Nassar of sexual abuse, and the LSJ reported Maroney was there for his sentencing.
After the hearing, The Players’ Tribune published Raisman’s letter and an additional statement. Part of her letter reads:
Realizing that you are a victim of sexual abuse is a horrible feeling. Words cannot adequately capture the level of disgust I feel when I think about how this happened. Larry abused his power and the trust I and so many others placed in him, and I am not sure I will ever come to terms with how horribly he manipulated and violated me. …
I am writing this letter to share some of my story, in hopes that it will help others understand the profound impact Larry’s abuse has had on me, how his betrayal of trust has changed me and how his actions years ago continue to affect my daily life.From the age of eight, all I wanted to do was go to the Olympics. I loved gymnastics with all my heart, and worked as hard as I could. Larry, you knew how badly I wanted to be the best I could be, you knew how hard I worked, and that I would do absolutely anything to be on the team. You were my doctor, and like most people, I was taught to trust doctors. I believed that you had my best interests at heart, and you made sure that message was reinforced, insisting your inappropriate touch was for medical reasons and that your care would help me get to the Olympic Games. You promised me that you would heal my injuries. You gave me gifts to make me think you were a good person, to make me believe you were my friend. You were nice so that we would trust you, to make it easier for you to take advantage of so many people, including me. But you lied to me. You lied to all of us.
Raisman also described how she has been healing from the abuse, repeating her demand to end victim shaming and calling herself and so many others survivors instead. She wrote: “I am not a victim. I am a survivor.”
At the end of her letter, Raisman said she hopes her story will encourage other survivors to speak out against their abusers and make them feel less isolated.