Women who survived former USA Gymnastics team physician Larry Nassar’s misconduct were honoured with the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage at the ESPYs at Microsoft Theater on July 18, in Los Angeles. More than 140 women abused by the former doctor joined each other on stage.
Powerful visuals of #MeToo and Time’s Up era
Among the more than 100 athletes who took to the stage were US Olympic gymnasts Aly Raisman, Jordyn Wieber and Jamie Dantzscher — all survivors of Larry Nassar’s sexual abuse.
This is the first time when the survivors came together on stage to speak out against the menace
Nassar’s sentencing in the sexual abuse case took place in January, when more than 160 girls and women opened up about being assaulted by him. On the day of hearing, women and their parents travelled to a courtroom in Lansing, Michigan, to face Nassar and read their victim-impact statements.
i didn’t correctly word my reply & i am deeply sorry for coming off like i don’t stand alongside my teammates. regardless of what you wear, abuse under any circumstance is never acceptable. i am WITH you. #metoo
— Gabby Douglas (@gabrielledoug) November 18, 2017
Sarah Klein, the first known gymnast to be abused by Nassar, told the audience on Wednesday evening, “Make no mistake, we are here on this stage to present an image for the world to see, a portrait of survival, a new vision of courage. . .telling our stories of abuse over and over and over again in graphic detail is not easy. We’re sacrificing privacy, we’re being judged and scrutinized, and it’s gruelling and it’s painful but it is time. We must start caring about children’s safety more than we care about adults’ reputations.”
“We must start caring about children’s safety more than we care about adults’ reputations,” Klein said
Raisman added, “For too long, we were ignored. It could have been avoided. All we needed was one adult to have the integrity to stand between us and Larry Nassar.”
Gaby Douglas, who is the 2012 Olympic all-around champion, wrote in an Instagram post that she waited long to unmask the abusive experience by Larry Nassar because she was part of a group “conditioned to stay silent”.
The post reads: “It would be like saying that because of the leotards we wore, it was our fault that we were abused by Larry Nassar. I didn’t publicly share my experiences as well as many other things because for years we were conditioned to stay silent and honestly some things were extremely painful.”
Two-time Olympic teammate Aly Raisman, in her autobiography “Fierce,” released earlier wrote about alleged abuse by Nassar. Also, Olympic medallist McKayla Maroney revealed abuse by Nassar. Jamie Dantzscher, a bronze medallist in the 2000 US Olympic team, then joined the group to file lawsuits against Nassar in 2016 following reports by the Indianapolis Star. The report highlighted chronic mishandling of abuse allegations against coaches and staff at more than 3,500 clubs across the country.
Feature Image Credit: Vanity Fair