Larry Nassar Sex Abuse Survivors Honored With Courage Award At ESPYs

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“We’re sacrificing privacy, we’re being judged and scrutinized, and it’s grueling and it’s painful, but it is time,” said gymnast Sarah Klein.

 

More than 100 female athletes who were sexually abused by Larry Nassar, the former USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University team doctor, received the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the 2018 ESPYs.

Not one person was dry-eyed as actress Jennifer Garner introduced the award. The entire audience gave a standing ovation to the abuse survivors.

“Abuse, silence, victory. Abuse, silence, victory,” said the actress. “The cycle was repeated over and over for generations, but finally in 2016 it was disrupted.”

The women depicted a powerful image of the “Me Too” and “Time’s Up” movement as they stood on the stage to receive the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage at the award ceremony in Los Angeles.

 

“To all the survivors out there, don’t let anyone rewrite your story. Your truth does matter, you matter and you are not alone,” said Six-time Olympic medalist, Aly Raisman as she accepted the award on behalf of the Nassar abuse survivors.

Raisman is Nassar’s first known victim who was sexually abused by the doctor over 30 years ago.

 “1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2004, 2011, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016. These were the years we spoke up about Larry Nassar’s abuse,” she said. “All those years we were told, ‘You were wrong. You misunderstood. He’s a doctor. It’s OK, don’t worry. We’ve got it covered. Be careful. There are risks involved.’ The intention? To silence us. In favor of money, medals and reputation, but we persisted, and finally someone listened and believed us.”

Raisman also thanked Ingham County Court Judge Rosemarie Aquilina for allowing more than 100 survivors and their family members to read their victim impact statements in the court. The powerful statements shuddered the entire country. Aquilina was also present at the ceremony to honor the survivors.

Sarah Klein, the first famous gymnast to be abused by Nassar, spoke courageously explaining how the U.S. Olympic Committee, USA Gymnastics and MSU “placed money and medals above the safety of child athletes.” 

“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,” she added. “We’re sacrificing privacy, we’re being judged and scrutinized, and it’s grueling and it’s painful, but it is time.”

“The amount of loss that we’ve endured over the years is almost immeasurable. . .I’m here to tell you that you cannot silence the strong forever,” said  Tiffany Thomas Lopez, a former softball player who was abused by Nassar.

“If one more victim of sexual abuse feels less alone tonight, then our suffering has meaning,” said former Michigan State University softball player Tiffany Thomas Lopez. “The amount of loss that we’ve endured over the years is almost immeasurable, but tonight we stand here and it feels like we’re finally winning.” 

Thumbnail/Banner Image: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports via Reuters

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