UPDATE: Yet another gold medalist has come forward to accuse Dr. Larry Nassar of sexual assault.
Aly Raisman, one of the five gymnasts known as the Fierce Five who won gold at the London Olympics, confirmed in an interview with “60 Minutes” that she is one of the many gymnasts who have suffered abuse in the hands of USA Gymnastics’ longtime team physician.
The three-time gold medalist is releasing a book this week entitled Fierce where she also discusses the alleged abuse.
During the interview, she said she is angry at what happened to countless others.
“I see these young girls that come up to me, and they ask for pictures or autographs, whatever it is … I just want to create change so that they never, ever have to go through this,” she explained.
Raisman’s teammate, McKayla Maroney, used Twitter one month ago to report that she had been abused by Nassar for years. She was first molested when she was 13.
Aside from McKayla and Raisman, Sydney bronze medalist Jamie Dantzscher has also confirmed she was abused by Nassar in the past.
With women finally speaking out about the abuse they have suffered throughout their lives, they have shown that women should never be afraid of coming forward, regardless of their attacker’s status.
As the reality of sexual abuse in Hollywood is finally being unveiled thanks to Harvey Weinstein’s victims sharing their stories, women everywhere are now inspired to speak out. Olympic medalist McKayla Maroney is one of them.
On Twitter, the two-time medalist opened up about her assault using the #MeToo hashtag and using her fame to bring awareness to the fact that the culture of abuse is more widespread than assumed.
“I know how hard it is to speak publicly about something so horrible, and so personal, because it’s happened to me too,” Maroney’s statement read.
“People should know that this is not just happening in Hollywood,” the athlete continued. “This is happening everywhere. Wherever there is a position of power, there seems to be potential for abuse. I had a dream to go to the Olympics, and the things that I had to endure to get there, were unnecessary, and disgusting.”
The 21-year-old told her followers that USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar molested her for years while claiming he was simply giving her “medically necessary treatment that he had been performing on patients for over 30 years.”
These “treatments,” Maroney went on to explain, happened whenever Nassar “could find the chance.”
Before she won both of her medals, she wrote, Nassar molested her.
Yet her most terrifying experience happened when she was just 15 years old. At the time, she had been on a plane for a day and a night on her way to Tokyo, so Nassar gave Maroney a sleeping pill.
“[N]ext thing I know,” she wrote, “I was all alone with him in his hotel room getting a ‘treatment.’ I thought I was going to die that night.”
The horrific reality of continued and systematic abuse unfortunately isn’t exclusive to Maroney.
On top of pleading guilty to possession of child pornography, Nassar was also sued by over 125 women and girls who all claim to have been abused by the doctor.
He is also awaiting trial while in a Michigan jail after nine gymnasts brought charges of sexual abuse against him.
Maroney may have stopped competing in 2013, but we’re sure that the pain and suffering she went through due to the years of abuse will never leave her.
Maroney said she hopes that more women and girls are able to speak out about their own experience without the fear of backlash and explained that the silence “has given the wrong people power for too long, and it’s time to take our power back.”
Telling her followers that it’s never too late to speak up, Maroney’s strength is helping to inspire countless others, especially now that it’s clear Hollywood isn’t the only place where abuse is pandemic. Staying quiet isn’t an option any longer.
Banner and thumbnail image credit: Reuters/Brian Snyder