During the sentencing on Thursday of former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar, who was accused of sexually abusing hundreds of women and sentenced to 60 years in prison on child pornography charges, letters from his victims were read in lieu of the women appearing in court to deliver statements.
One of those victims was Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman, who accused Nassar of sexually assaulting her along with teammates McKayla Maroney and Gabby Douglas.
In a post for The Players' Tribune, Raisman wrote about her experience surviving the alleged sexual assault under Nassar.
"I’ve chosen to open up about my experience because I want change," she explained. "It is very hard and uncomfortable to talk about. 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."
The athlete also noted how important it is to support and protect the supporters of sexual assault and harassment.
"The power needs to shift to the survivors," she wrote. "Sexual abuse isn’t just in the moment. It is forever. Healing is forever."
Raisman also shared her victim impact statement, which she had been prepared to read at Nassar's sentencing before the judge forbade it.
"Realizing that you are a victim of sexual abuse is a horrible feeling," she wrote. "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."
The 23-year-old continued, "I now have a hard time trusting other people. When I go to the doctor, especially a male doctor, I am scared and uncomfortable. Even if that doctor is recommended as the best, I am skeptical because I was told you were the best, and you certainly weren’t. I am afraid that another doctor will mistreat me and abuse his power like you did. In turn, I feel guilty that I harbor these doubts and suspicions."
Along with Raisman, multiple other victims, including Maroney, also shared letters. Nassar is still awaiting sentencing on sexual assault charges.
"I didn’t get to read my letter in court. But I don’t want it to go unread," Raisman explained in the post. "This was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. Every time I share my story, it feels like the first time. I relive years of trauma. But this is part of my truth and part of my healing. This is survival."
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