Shortly after former Olympics Team USA doctor Larry Nassar was sentenced to 60 years in prison on child pornography charges, gymnast Aly Raisman, among those who accused Nassar of sexual assault, penned a powerful letter about surviving the abuse.
In a letter published Thursday on The Players' Tribune, which Raisman says she wasn't allowed to read in court proceedings, she discussed the trauma she went through, and why she decided to open up about her experience, despite how "hard and uncomfortable" it is for her to talk about.
"I’ve chosen to open up about my experience because I want change," she wrote. "I have learned that everyone copes differently. There’s no map that shows you the path to healing. Some days I feel happy and protected for sharing my story. Other days I have bad anxiety and either feel traumatized from Larry Nassar’s abuse or I fear something else will happen in the future."
Raisman also wrote about the effects of the assault she experienced, writing that she had trouble sleeping due to nightmares and anxiety.
"The anxiety got so intense that I needed to see a doctor — a female — who prescribed anxiety medication so that I could function, and sleeping medication to help resolve my extreme exhaustion," she wrote. "After adjusting the dosages of some of the medication, I had a bad reaction and lost consciousness. I woke up to my terrified mom calling 911. I was loaded into an ambulance and taken to the hospital, where the doctors realized the issue was a side effect from one of the medications."
She opened up, she says, because "I also want people to understand that abuse is never O.K.," and we as a society need to do better for survivors.
"We must protect the survivors and people who are suffering in silence," she wrote. "We must support those who come forward, whether it is today, tomorrow, in three months, one year from now, 10 years from now. Whenever it is, everyone must show support. Victim shaming must stop."
The rest of her post, which is worth reading in its entirety, says that the judge of the case did not allow Nassar's survivors to speak at the hearing, and pleads for him to receive "the maximum sentence the court allows."
"I am not a victim," Raisman wrote. "I am a survivor. The abuse does not define me, or anyone else who has been abused. This does not define the millions of those who’ve suffered sexual abuse. They are not victims, either. They are survivors. They are strong, they are brave, they are changing things so the next generation never has to go through what they did."
If you have experienced sexual violence and are in need of crisis support, please call the RAINN Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).
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