In January, disgraced physician and USA gymnastics doctor, Dr. Lawrence G. Nassar, was charged with criminal sexual conduct with more than 150 female athletes. Nassar is now behind bars, but for his victims, their healing journey is far from over. At a historic ESPY award ceremony, more than 100 of his sexual abuse survivors took to the stage to receive the Arthur Ashe Courage Award.
After a emotionally-charged video introduction, the former child athletes made their way to the stage as the audience rose in a standing ovation. This moment alone is powerful and unforgettable.
The athletes included Olympic gold medalist, Aly Raisman, Sarah Klein and Tiffany Thomas Lopez – all three of whom opened up about their sexual abuse experiences.
Klein shared that Nassar’s abuse began with her over 30 years ago. But they don’t want to be seen as victims anymore. They want to be seen as victorious.
Klein, along with her many other “survivor sisters” came to the ESPY awards to “present an image for the world to see: a portrait of survival, a new vision of courage.”
From the stage, Lopez said, “Tonight, we stand here and it feels like we’re finally winning. But it’s a victory that is both painful and difficult.”
As Klein reminds us, “Speaking up and speaking out is not easy. Telling our stories of abuse over and over and over again, in graphic detail, is not easy. We’re sacrificing privacy and being judged and scrutinized, and it is painful, but it is time.”
After all, for years, these women were ignored and shamed for trying to speak out about Nassar’s abuse.
As Raisman said, “The ripple effect of our actions, or inactions, can be enormous, spanning generations. Perhaps the greatest tragedy of this nightmare is that it could have been avoided. Whether you act or do nothing, you are shaping the world that we live in. Impacting others. All we needed was one adult to have the integrity to stand between us and Larry Nassar.”