Aly Raisman appeared on The View to a standing ovation on Friday, where she told the co-hosts why she decided at the last minute to speak in court at Larry Nassar's sentencing hearing.
Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman on why she decided to speak up at USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar's sentencing hearing along with other survivors: "I just felt like I needed to be there ... we just felt like we were a family." https://t.co/f8u2wc159S pic.twitter.com/I9DMImDTtt— The View (@TheView) January 26, 2018
The 23-year-old Olympic gymnast acknowledged that she hadn't originally planned on speaking to Nassar during the victim impact statements, but the others' powerful statements helped her reach a different decision.
“You watch these young girls at 15 years old, the way that they spoke, the way they delivered their speeches, young girls, women. I don’t even have words to describe. I just felt like I needed to be there," she said.
"And when I went there, we just felt like we were a family. Obviously, under the circumstances of where we met is not where you want to meet someone and make new family and friends, but we will have this bond forever and we're all working together to create change," she said.
"It was a very last minute decision, but I'm very glad that I did go," she added.
Raisman, who competed in the 2012 and 2016 games, was one of more than 150 woman who read a public statement about the sexual abuse she endured at the hands of the longtime Team USA gymnastics doctor.
She told Hoda Kotb on the TODAY Show that she approached the podium at the sentencing hearing as if she was heading into an Olympic routine.
“In that moment, I almost felt like I was going to compete,” she said Thursday. “Because at the Olympics, you block everything out and in that moment, I blocked out everything.”
While she remained strong during her statement, the 23-year-old said she was physically ill after she spoke.
“After, I will be honest, I was sick,” she said. “I almost passed out. I had the worst headache for hours. It made me literally sick, all the stress and the trauma.”
Raisman said she had not seen Nassar since a training camp in 2015 while preparing for the 2016 Olympics. To prepare herself for potential shock, Raisman looked at photographs of the former team doctor. While she was prepared to see his face, she was taken off guard by his constant eye contact as he had kept his head down for much of the seven-day hearing.
"He actually looked at me the whole entire time, every time I made contact with him," she recalled. "Even when I stared at him, he looked at me the whole entire time. It was crazy. I did not expect that at all."
“This is bigger than Larry Nassar. We have to get to the bottom of how this disaster happened. If we don’t figure out how it did, we can’t be confident that it won’t happen again,” she said. She named USA Gymnastics, the United States Olympic Committee and Michigan State University as organizations that should be held accountable for Nassar’s habitual abuse, and called for independent investigations to be carried out.
Three leaders of USA Gymnastics resigned following the scandal and the U.S. Olympic Committee promised an independent, third-party investigation into what went wrong. On Wednesday night, the president of Michigan State University, where Nassar kept his main his medical practice, stepped down.
In her statement at Nassar's sentencing hearing, Raisman spoke for 13 minutes, telling Nassar that the "tables have turned."
"Larry, it’s your turn to listen to me," Raisman said, with Nassar in the courtroom. "There is no map that shows you the pathway to healing. Realizing that you are a survivor of sexual abuse is really hard to put into words. I cannot adequately capture the level of disgust I feel when I think about how this happened."
Raisman told Nassar he "abused the power and trust I and so many others placed in you, and I am not sure I will ever come to terms with how horribly you manipulated and violated me."
The Olympian also called Nassar's letter on Thursday, in which he called the sentencing hearing a "media circus," "pathetic."