Olympic gold medalist Aly Raisman detailed sexual abuse that she faced at the hands of her former coach and now convicted criminal Larry Nassar and missing warning signs at Fort Bend charity event for victims. One of the most decorated American gymnasts in history and part of the ‘fierce five’, Raisman now uses her platform to spread awareness about mental health and sexual abuse.
Back in 2017, Raisman came forward as a survivor of abuse at the hands of her former coach Larry Nassar. The best-selling author discussed her journey of healing and advocacy at the Fort Bends Women’s Center’s annual luncheon on Wednesday. “In sports and athletics, predators can often hide in plain sight. The harsh reality is, anywhere there are children, that’s where predators are going to be”.
“It happens with the people you’d least expect”
Nassar is currently serving multiple life sentences after more than 250 gymnasts came forward with accusations that they were sexually abused under the pretext of medical treatment. Raisman says that they missed the warning signs of abuse. “The sad reality is that 90 per cent of the time, the abuser is someone that the child and even the child’s parents trust. It happens with the people you’d least expect. If you don’t have anyone saying anything bad about you, that’s instantly a red flag”.
Another red flag that they missed, she said is that Nassar always found reasons to be alone with children. She said that he had ‘favourites’ and often gave gifts to the girls he liked the best. “It’s been very eye-opening for me, learning these things. [Nassar] had a lot of red flags, and I didn’t even know what was happening to us”.
Raisman believes that open communication with children and educating them about sexual abuse is the way to end abuse. “Conversations about sexual abuse need to be had everywhere, in schools and in every single sports setting. If it’s something that everyone is talking about, abusers won’t be able to thrive. And when (children) do speak up, they need to know they’re going to be believed and supported”.