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It has been a year since former USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar was sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison for abusing more than 150 girls entrusted in his care. But Aly Raisman — an Olympic gold medalist and former captain of the U.S. women’s Olympic gymnastics team — is still coming to terms with the sexual abuse she experienced as a teenager.
“When I go out on the street, or I’m at the airport, or the grocery store, or whatever it is, people are so supportive. And I’m so grateful for that,” Raisman said during an interview with the Yahoo News show “Through Her Eyes.”
Raisman is frequently approached by supportive strangers who are eager to share their own traumatic experiences of sexual assault. But these stories from fellow survivors can sometimes be difficult for Raisman to hear.
“I think sometimes people forget I am coping with it too,” Raisman explained. “And sometimes people will go into graphic detail.”
By being upfront about how painful these gruesome details are for her to process, Raisman said she is able to feel more connected to those who come to her with their own survival stories. But she said she initially found it difficult to be honest with fans about how much these explicit details bothered her.
“I was nervous they were gonna be mad at me, and then tweet that Aly Raisman’s such a horrible person,” she confided.
Raisman noted that she has also received some backlash for her own candor; she explained that some people she used to be close with in the gymnastics world don’t understand why she still feels the need to speak out.
“People are like, ‘We get it. Just stop talking. We get it. He’s in jail.’ But they don’t understand,” she said.
“I think it’s also OK to be angry,” Raisman continued. “I think, as women, we’re always told that you just have to be very nice and sweet, and you can’t be angry.”
Much of Raisman’s own anger stems from the negligent handling of allegations against Nassar — and the fact that it took nearly two decades for him to be brought to justice.
“I just feel like child sexual abuse, and women being abused or sexually assaulted, is at the bottom of the list for certain law enforcement and authorities,” she said. “There are some law enforcement that do amazing, amazing things, and certain authorities that do great things. But I feel, sometimes, it’s at the bottom of the list.”