In July, survivors of one of the worst sexual assault cases in sports history were honored at the prestigious athletic and sport award show, the ESPYS. Earlier this year, many young women came forward and accused their sports doctor, Larry Nassar, of sexual assault. After a rigorous trial and hundreds of testimonies, Nassar was sent to prison for the rest of his life. During sentencing, the judge stated, “I just signed your death warrant.”
The trial included the testimonies of notable Olympic participants, many of them gymnasts. Notably, survivor and Olympic gold medalist, Aly Raisman spoke directly about the abuse she endured throughout her time under Nassar’s influence. Raisman’s teammates, Simone Biles and Jordyn Wieber, were also impacted by Nassar’s abuse during their Olympic careers. Survivors of the Nassar case changed their mutual trauma’s connotation with the coined group name, sister survivors. As an army of sister survivors, the women impacted society’s view on sexual assault. The women were given the Arthur Ashe Courage Award. The women showed the kind of courage that had the ability to transcend sports and take action on a societal level.
“To all the survivors out there, don’t let anyone rewrite your story. Your truth does matter. You matter. And you are not alone,” Raisman said at the ESPYS.
The trial and honor these women were involved in inspired other victims of sexual assault and molestation to come forward. After the arrest of Nassar, Texas prosecutors arrested Skipper Glenn Crawley, an elite gymnastics coach. Three young women who were impacted by the alleged abuse by Crawley came forward after many years of silence. This silence was especially hard to break due to Crawley’s ability to seem like a caring man and him being a talented coach. This deception led the survivors to carry their stories behind a closed mouth that desired to scream out in pain.
Survivors of any assault should be honored for their tenacity and bravery, but survivors of sexual assault especially deserve a spotlight. In many instances, sexual assault in society is ignored or pushed to the side in a conversation. However, in light of vocal survivors like Raisman, men and women who are impacted by sexual assault are receiving the validation they need and deserve. Athletes are put under societal pressure to maintain strength and not show emotion. However, the greatest strength the gymnasts have had over the past few years only shows how powerful they are and how much they can withstand.
Sources: BBC, Daily Mail, NPR, NY Post