After three days of statements in a Michigan court, Aly Raisman stood in front of Larry Nassar, the disgraced former USA Gymnastics doctor, last week to deliver hers. "You are nothing," Raisman told the man who had abused her and at least 139 other women throughout his medical career. The two-time gold medal Olympian admitted that she was "scared and nervous" to speak out, but after hearing so many women come forward with their own stories, she knew she had to. "We are here," she told Nassar. "We have our voices, and we are not going anywhere."
These voices — over 100 of them already with more slated to read their statements in court — include former USA Gymnastics team members McKayla Maroney and Jordan Wieber, who were treated by Nassar during his two decades as Team USA's doctor. Others who spoke out included athletes who attended Michigan State University where Nassar also worked for years amidst sexual abuse allegations. The Lansing State Journal reported that the first reported allegation against Nassar was in 1996 by a former gymnast.
Nassar previously pled guilty to child pornography charges and was sentenced to 60 years in jail. As part of his plea deal, Nassar admitted that he used his position as a trusted medical professional to sexually abuse young girls. For these survivors, though, that punishment wasn't enough. They wanted to make sure Nassar heard them tell their stories, to hear them talk about the effects his abuse had on them.
“Imagine feeling like you have no power and no voice,” Raisman said in her statement. “Well, you know what, Larry? I have both power and voice, and I am only just beginning to use them. All these brave women have power, and we will use our voices to make sure you get what you deserve: a life of suffering spent replaying the words delivered by this powerful army of survivors.”
Now, the rest of us are listening to these empowering impact statements of survival that focus on moving forward with their lives.