At last night’s ESPYS 140 survivors of sexual victimization joined hands as they accepted the Arthur Ashe Courage Award on behalf of hundreds of child athletes who have been victimized. Their presence represented more than 30 years’ of violation. Olympic gymnast, Aly Raisman, cited the years that athletes tried to tell people about Larry Nassar’s abuse, and no one listened… 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2004, 2011, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016. She noted their intent was to silence the athletes “in favor of money, medals, and reputation.” As the audience members stood in solidarity with the athletes, there were nods, tears, smiles of support… and a shared realization that we’ve entered an era when silencing victims isn’t acceptable.
Noting how much has been taken from the athletes, many just children when they represented their team, their support and their country. Former Michigan State softball player Tiffany Thomas Lopez, noted that , “Tonight we stand here and it feels like we’re finally winning…. You cannot silence the strong forever.”
The athlete’s gave thanks for honoring their voices. I’d like to give thanks for their courage. Courage that has broken the code of silence and deception. Courage that has made us all understand. Courage that will create change so that other women, other athletes, other children may never experience the same violation and so that we all will realize our part in ending abuse. Raisman noted. “Predators thrive in silence; whether you act or do nothing you are shaping the world you live in.” She noted that if just one adult had listened, had believed, and had taken action…. the athletes standing on that stage… and many others…. would never have met Larry Nasser.
It’s a call to action to all of us.
Watch the powerful video here