For years, Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman kept the sexual abuse she suffered at the hands of doctor Larry Nassar a secret, but now, the 23-year-old is using her experience to make a difference. Last month, she testified against him in court along with over a hundred other victims who had been abused by the medical professional during his time working with USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University.
"You took advantage of our passions and our dreams," Aly told the 54-year-old to his face. "I am here to face you, Larry, so you can see I have regained my strength. That I am no longer a victim, I am a survivor. I am no longer that little girl you met in Australia, where you first began grooming and manipulating. You caused me a great deal of physical, mental, and emotional pain. You never healed me."
Now, Aly is speaking out about what it was like to actually face her abuser in public and on such a widely heard platform. She told People magazine, "I felt very strong. I felt like I had so much I wanted to say." Her 12-minute speech received applause, and Judge Rosemarie Aquilina praised Aly for her resilience. Larry was sentenced to 40 to 125 years after pleading guilty to abusing young gymnasts at a training facility in Michigan on top of his 60-year sentence for child pornography.
But Aly is still trying to process what happened to her. She said, "You never really want to say, ‘I was sexually abused,’ but you have to process it. You can’t push it aside forever, which is what I did for a long time. I’m still processing it and coping with it. You lose a part of yourself when you’re abused. I lost a part of myself, and I’m getting it back by speaking out. I’m just starting to realize how strong I am and I won’t be silenced."
Aly isn't the only one to speak up about the trauma she endured. Her teammates, Simone Biles, McKayla Maroney, and Jordyn Wieber all made statements. Jordyn even admitted while testifying in court that she confided in her teammates about the abuse. "I had no idea he was sexually abusing me for his own benefit, I even talked to my teammates, Aly Raisman and McKayla Maroney, about this treatment and how uncomfortable it made us feel. None of us really understood it."