At the beginning of 2018 in January, news about the USA Gymnastics Team spread like wildfire throughout the nation. Women gymnasts, including Olympic Gold Medalist, Aly Raisman, started to speak out against their former doctor, Larry Nassar, on accounts of sexual abuse. It was brought to the world’s attention that the sexual abuse within this community started 30 years ago. For the past few decades, no one had listened or taken the worries of the women to heart, taking the stories of sexual abuse these girls encountered and sweeping them under the rug. It was not until this past year that the stories that these women were telling would be heard and taken to heart, prompting immediate action. With each passing month, police dug deeper into the hardships these women went through because of their abuser, and with each story the voice of the women grew stronger.
On July 18th, at the 2018 ESPY Awards, the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage was awarded to over 300 women survivors of sexual abuse from their former USA Gymnastics doctor. Over 100 women joined hands on stage to tearfully accept the award. In true Aly Raisman fashion, she gave an empowering speech, reminding her audience, “Do not let anyone rewrite your story. Your truth does matter, you matter, and you are not alone.” Aly also gave ode to Judge Aquilina, the judge who during Larry Nassar’s trial, gave every single woman that he hurt to stand up and share with the court their own heart-wrenching stories of abuse.
Aly was accompanied by fellow gymnasts Sarah Klein and Tiffany Thomas, each giving their own words of encouragement. Sarah Klein, one of the first women survivors from 30 years ago, stated that the women on stage with her were a “portrait of survival and a new vision of courage,” and she could not have painted a better picture in our heads. These women have gone through something that they will have to live with for the rest of their lives, each day being a struggle of its own. But as Aly Raisman stated, these women “struggled on their own, but will survive together”.
In moments like these, it is a constant reminder that women who have, or are, suffering from sexual abuse are not alone. It is an issue that happens far too often, and is not even close to being talked about enough. Hundreds of women were able to have their voices heard, after years of trying, but it shouldn’t take over 300 voices to make something so cruel to be vocalized. As Tiffany Thomas Lopez said in her speech, “you cannot silence the strong forever.”
FSU's Premiere Fashion Magazine