“To all the survivors out there, don’t let anyone rewrite your story. Your truth does matter. You matter. And you are not alone.”
— ESPYS (@ESPYS) July 19, 2018
Survivors of sexual abuse from former USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University doctor Larry Nassar took the stage to accept the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the ESPYs Wednesday night. The award is given to those who demonstrate “strength in the face of adversity, courage in the face of peril and the willingness to stand up for their beliefs no matter what the cost.”
Dozens of women got up to accept the award, with several addressing the live audience and those watching on television.
“For thirty years, people at the USOC, USA G, and Mich SU all placed money and medals above the safety of child athletes,” survivor Sarah Klein said. Klein was the first known victim of Nassar, who was sentenced to up to 175 years in prison for abusing women and girls under his care.
Klein looked to the good that could come from so many of her “sister survivors” speaking out and holding their abuser accountable.
“If one more victim of sexual abuse feels less alone tonight, then our suffering has meaning.”
Olympic gold medalist and survivor Aly Raisman also spoke, calling out the institutions that ignored complaints for decades.
“But we persisted, and finally someone listened and believed us,” Raisman said, wishing someone had heard the complaints sooner. “If just one adult had listened, believed, and acted, the people standing before you on this stage would have never met him.”
Raisman closed by saying that she and the other women who experienced abuse have given each other the strength to move forward.
“We may suffer alone, but we survive together.”
[Image via ABC screengrab]