Six-time Olympic winning gymnast Aly Raisman and dozens of other survivors of disgraced USA Gymnastics and Michigan State team doctor, Larry Nassar took the stage to accept the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the 2018 ESPYS on Wednesday. In the powerful display of solidarity, the women who call themselves “sister survivors” presented the message, “We may suffer alone, but we survive together.”
The courage award is given annually to athletes who embody the spirit and tenacity of late tennis legend and human rights activist Arthur Ashe.
According to ESPN, Sarah Klein, who identified herself as the first young girl Nassar abused, said the women “represent hundreds more who are not with us tonight. Make no mistake, we are here on this stage to present an image for the world to see: a portrait of survival, a new vision of courage.”
Raisman then spoke about how the decade-long outcries of abuse from survivors were not taken seriously. “All those years we were told: ‘You are 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,” she said. The gold medalist has been taken to task for coming forward and criticizing USA Gymnastics and the U.S. Olympic Committee for not doing more to protect athletes.
Nassar was sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison after being found guilty on seven counts of sexually assaulting minors. More than 150 girls and women made statements during the trial.
Watch the 10-minute presentation in the video above.
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Christina Santi is a news and culture writer for EBONY.com. Born and raised in the Bronx, New York, she considers herself a well-read, not so traditional feminist with a heavy interest in music, fashion and pop culture. Christina currently lives in New York City, where she refers to her Cuban & Jamaican descent often while writing about her experiences as a first-generation Afro-Latinx in America. She also devotes time writing personalized reading material for her tutees and turning ideas into words for streetwear brand, PUER By Noel Bronson.