Warning: This post contains subject matter some people may find distressing.
At just 23 years old, Aly Raisman already has three Olympic gold medals to her name.
The US Gymnast has also competed on Dancing With The Stars, and in the US – and internationally – is a household name.
But she’s also endured horrors and is one of the more than 250 people who have come forward about their abuse by Team USA Gymnastics doctor, Larry Nassar, delivering a powerful victim impact statement at his trial.
Last month, he was sentenced to several life sentences for his crimes including sexual conduct with minors and possession of child pornography.
In her first Australian interview with Mamamia’s No Filter podcast, the 23 year old said that for a long time, she didn’t even realise what was happening was wrong.
Listen: Aly Raisman details the abuse she suffered at the hands of Larry Nassar. Post continues after audio.
“He [Nassar] would close his eyes when he would work on me. And me being a young kid, I just thought he was closing his eyes and out of breath because he was tired, because we were somewhere international or he had been working on a lot of us, but obviously it wasn’t the case,” she told Mia Freedman.
“He was pleasuring himself which is disgusting.”
“I think we have to teach children that because, you know I was so innocent, I never thought anyone would be hurting me, it never occurred to me that he was molesting me. I just had such an innocent mind and I thought highly of everyone around me.”
She also detailed his grooming techniques, saying that in the high pressure world of gymnastics, Nassar was always very supportive.
I can’t believe it but I have been on the New York Times Best Sellers list for 3 months in a row. I never imagined this in my wildest dreams. I wanted to thank you all for the support. Thank you to everyone who was involved in helping me write this book. I’m glad that I was able to share the best times of my life but also the toughest times. Thank you for listening. Grateful for you all ✨???????? #FierceByAly
“If we had a rough practice, he would talk to us, he would sometimes just give us cookies or a croissant, or he would give us some treat to make us feel like he liked us. He would trick us into thinking he really cared about us and was there for us,” she said.
She warned others to open their eyes to these kind of tactics, whether it’s flowers or food or gifts and said she was still “coping” with what happened. Their faith in the authorities who failed them has caused significant confusion.
“We [Team USA] all struggle with the fact that we didn’t realise this was happening. Part of the reason is he was on the national team for decades so we just thought if this was wrong, somebody would have said something a long time ago. So we figured he must have known something we didn’t,” she said.
“I wish we had trusted our instincts and were a little bit more educated in what sexual abuse was and I also wish the adults over the years had listened to us.
“For any adults listening out there, if a child of any age comes up to you and says they’re being hurt or abused by someone, it is important that you listen to them and believe them and you take proper action. There were even authorities that didn’t believe the survivors of Larry. It’s unbelievable, it’s disgusting.”
Listen below for the full interview. Warning: this podcast contains some subject matter that some listeners may find distressing.