Needham Native Raisman Speaks Out on Abuse

Needham native and multiple Olympic medalist Aly Raisman was hoping victim impact statements would be heard in court during the sentencing of Larry Nassar, the man who sexually abused her. Denied that opportunity, Raisman has released the letter as part of an article titled “This Is Survival” on the Player’s Tribune.

Raisman, 23, revealed on 60 Minutes in November that like hundreds of others in the USA Gymnastics program, she was abused by Nassar, the former U.S. national gymnastics team doctor. As the story was being published, Nassar was being sentenced to 60 years in federal prison for child pornography possession charges he pleaded guilty to. At 54 years old, the sentence is essentially life in prison for the disgraced doctor. His sentence won’t start until he is sentenced in January for two sexual assault cases.

Raisman was a member and captain of both the 2012 “Fierce Five” and 2016 “Final Five” U.S. women’s Olympic gymnastics which won their respective team competitions

Raisman was among several victims who submitted letters with the hope of having them heard before sentencing. A judge, however, denied the request.

“Larry was the USA Gymnastics national team doctor and the U.S. Olympic Team doctor. He was trusted by so many and took advantage of countless athletes, and their families. The effects of his actions are far-reaching, since abuse goes way beyond the moment, often haunting survivors for the rest of their lives, making it difficult for them to trust others, and impacting their relationships. It is all the more devastating when such abuse comes at the hand of such a highly respected doctor since it leaves victims questioning the organizations — and even the medical profession itself — upon which so many rely,” Raisman wrote.

Raisman wrote of the anxiety caused by the thought of speaking in front of Nassar and wondering if it would bring any comfort. She was informed that she wouldn’t be able to read her letter in court about a week before sentencing.

Throughout her essay, Raisman makes it clear that she does not see herself as a victim, rather she is a survivor.

“The abuse does not define me, or anyone else who has been abused. This does not define the millions of those who’ve suffered sexual abuse. They are not victims, either. They are survivors. They are strong, they are brave, they are changing things so the next generation never has to go through what they did. There have been so many people who’ve come forward in the last few months. They have inspired me, and I hope, together, we inspire countless more. Surviving means that you’re strong. You’re strong because you came out on the other side, and that makes you brave and courageous,” she wrote.

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