The world of gymnastics hides in the backgrounds until the Summer Olympics come out of nowhere every four years. That was until former Olympics gymnastics doctor, Larry Nassar, was called out by countless accusers for molesting and sexually assaulting athletes during their treatment. The news exploded in January when he came to trial, and Gold Medalist, Aly Raisman, led the way.
Earlier this year, 156 of his accusers spoke up at his hearing, with absolutely horrifying testimonies of their assault experiences with Nassar. He practiced at Michigan State University before treating Olympic female competitors. The hearing ultimately ended with Judge Rosemarie Aquilina of Ingham County, Michigan giving Nassar a 40 to 175 year sentence.
The accusers became known publicly as The Sister Survivors, continuing to speak up for sexual abuse victims. ESPNW hopes to propel their message by hosting five of Nassar’s accusers – Amanda Thomashow, Thomas Lopez, Sterling Riethman, Trinea Gonczar, and Grace French – in a round table filmed discussion of the movement. Other famous gymnasts who brought their stories against Nassar, Jordyn Wieber and Sarah Klein, will speak next month at the espnW Women + Sports Summit. Additionally, the Sister Survivors received the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage at this year’s ESPYS. On Wednesday, Aly Raisman spoke to a group of high school students in Chicago about her new book and the need for increased awareness of sexual abuse.
The media focuses in on Thursday on Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s hearing against his accusations that he sexually assaulted Christine Blasey Ford over 30 years ago. The dialogue and rhetoric around sexual assault accusations becomes more pertinent in this national spotlight. On Friday, we will find out if the Senate Judiciary Committee will approve of someone with an accusation of such a terrible crime in the highest court in the land.
Athletes in the sports world require the most pristine injury treatment and no woman should ever be placed in such a terrifying situation. Ford’s hearing and the Sister Survivors highlight the need that women should feel validated sharing with others if they’ve been assaulted. Especially with gymnasts like Raisman and Wieber, who were the pride of America when they earned Olympic Gold medals, society needs to do a better job of supporting survivors like them and recognizing abuse.