With the rise of the #MeToo movement in October, more and more survivors of sexual harassment and assault have been empowered to speak out. And one of those who opened up about her past assault was gymnast Aly Raisman, who revealed in November that she was sexually abused by Larry Nassar, the disgraced Olympic doctor. Now, Raisman is continuing to speak up about her experience as a survivor by posing for a series of nude photos in the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue.
As part of the magazine’s “In Her Own Words” feature, Raisman chose words depicting her experience with sexual assault and posed with them painted on her body. The words and phrases she chose include “Survivor,” “Trust yourself,” and “Abuse is never okay.” She told Sports Illustrated that participating in the project was a good reminder that “it is okay to not be okay” and that being a survivor is nothing to be ashamed of.
The sentence “Women do not have to be modest to be respected,” written down the side of Raisman’s leg, was also featured prominently in the shoot. Raisman explained her thoughts on this idea in an Instagram post.
Other women featured in “In Her Own Words” include Hunter McGrady, Sailor Brinkley Cook, Paulina Porizkova, and Robyn Lawley.
On January 19th, Raisman gave her testimony against Nassar, among more than 100 other women. In a 13-minute statement, she discussed the abuse Nassar had inflicted on her and implored the judge to give him the maximum sentence. But Raisman also spoke about power and about using her voice to speak out against abusers.
Through her participation in “In Her Own Words,” Raisman has shattered the victim-blaming idea that a woman who wears revealing clothes is “asking” to be sexually assaulted. As Raisman has rightfully pointed out, being modest is not a prerequisite for women to be treated with respect. We applaud Raisman for her strength and her courage in speaking out against sexual assault.