The Olympic gymnast and athletes Sarah Klein and Tiffany Thomas Lopez praised the power of #MeToo at the ESPY Awards: ‘We survive together’
These survivors brought justice center stage.
The female athletes who spoke out against former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar, who was sentenced to prison earlier this year for sexually abusing more than 140 girls and women for decades, were honored with the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the ESPYs on Wednesday.
Actress Jennifer Garner presented the award to three of Nassar’s victims, including Olympic gold medal gymnast Aly Raisman, former gymnast Sarah Klein and softball player Tiffany Thomas Lopez. The trio described their traumatic experiences, which included being silenced when they reported the abuse. They voiced the importance of speaking up, and urged everyone to listen and to act when a victim comes forward.
“For 30 years, the United States Olympic Committee, USA Gymnastics, and Michigan State University all placed money and medals over the safety of child athletes,” Klein said, calling the women standing with her a “portrait of survival.”
“It is time to start caring about children’s safety more than we care about adults’ reputations,” added Klein, who said she was first abused by Nassar more than three decades ago. “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. We’re sacrificing privacy and being judged and scrutinized, and it is painful, but it is time.”
Raisman, who was one of several victims who read impact statements at Nassar’s sentencing in November 2017, also said that her teammates repeatedly reported their abuse, but it went unheard for years.
“The intention was to silence us in favor of money, medals, and reputation,” Raisman said. “But we persisted, and finally someone listened and believed us … If just one adult had listened, believed and acted, the people on this stage would have never met him.” Her moving speech has been liked almost 10,000 times and retweeted almost 4,000 times on Twitter.
“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
The dark reality of sexual violence in America has increasingly come to light thanks to the recent #MeToo movement, the anti-sexual harassment crusade by women across all industries who have shared their stories following the Harvey Weinstein abuse scandal that rocked Hollywood last October. Since then, more than 400 executives and employees in a number of different fields have been accused of sexual misconduct.
More than 570 people experience sexual violence in this country every day, according to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, a non-profit anti-sexual assault organization. What’s more, one out of every six women (2.8%) has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape (14.8%) in her lifetime, while one in 33 men (3%) has experienced an attempted or completed rape in their lifetime, according to RAINN.
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