Aly Raisman didn’t get to read her letter to her abuser in court, so she published it online
Justice is being served. On December 7th, Larry Nassar, the gymnastics doctor who sexually abused patients, was sentenced to 60 years in prison on child pornography charges. He molested young gymnasts for decades, including Olympic gold medal winner Aly Raisman. Raisman penned a powerful letter about Nassar, but she wasn’t allowed to read it in court. So she published it online instead.
Raisman was among other Team USA Olympic gymnasts to speak out about being sexually abused by Nassar, the former team doctor. Olympians Gabby Douglas and McKayla Maroney also spoke out about his abusive conduct. And, overall, in civil and criminal complaints, Nassar has been accused of assaulting more than 140 women. We feel sick.
Raisman wrote her letter to Nassar before he was sentenced, but she did not get the chance to read it in court. So she turned to The Players’ Tribune, a site where athletes can share personal stories and connect with their fans. Her essay, titled “This Is Survival,” was published on December 7th. And it’s extremely powerful. First, she discusses what it’s like to be a survivor of sexual abuse. Then, she reveals the letter she was prepared to read in court.
Both Raisman and The Players’ Tribune tweeted the post. Then it was retweeted, and retweeted, and retweeted by many others. With the power of social media, we hope many people read it, whether they’re a victim of sexual abuse or they want to better understand just how lasting the effects of sexual abuse are on somebody’s life.
Here’s Raisman’s tweet with a link to her essay and letter to Nassar.
Here’s The Players’ Tribune’s tweet too.
We’re in awe of Raisman’s powerful words and her bravery to share her story. Her essay and letter are heartbreaking but so important to read. Here are some lines that stuck with us from her essay, which is a preface to the letter.
“…I am not a victim. I am a survivor. The abuse does not define me, or anyone else who has been abused. This does not define the millions of those who’ve suffered sexual abuse. They are not victims, either. They are survivors. They are strong, they are brave, they are changing things so the next generation never has to go through what they did…Surviving means that you’re strong. You’re strong because you came out on the other side, and that makes you brave and courageous...Sexual abuse isn’t just in the moment. It is forever. Healing is forever.
As for Raisman’s letter to Nassar, it, too, has had a lasting effect on us. In part, it reads:
“Realizing that you are a victim of sexual abuse is a horrible feeling. 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…I want more than anything to make sure the next generation never goes through something like this. I don’t want anyone to experience the pain, anxiety, fear and other horrible feelings that stem from abuse…Maybe by speaking out, by sharing my story and the way my daily life continues to be impacted by Larry’s depraved actions, I can help other survivors feel less alone, less isolated, and encourage them to speak up and to get help...
You can read Raisman’s essay and letter in their entirety here. Of course, Raisman was a champion to us before. And now she’s an even bigger one for her bravery. We are so glad that survivors like Raisman are continuing to speak out. Stay strong.