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Pictured here are the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage recipients. In front is Sarah Klein, Tiffany Thomas Lopez and Aly Raisman.
Image Group LA/ABC
Girls & Women

Aly Raisman and 140 Sexual Abuse Survivors Honored with ESPY Courage Award


Why Global Citizens Should Care
What started as a handful of women in Hollywood speaking out about sexual abuse in the workplace has turned into a global movement of women saying #MeToo, including in the sports field. Women around the world are pushing for equal treatment and an end to sexual violence without consequences. You can take action here to call on world leaders to strengthen their laws against sexual violence and work toward gender equality.

More than 200 girls and women came forward with stories of sexual abuse by former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar since the #MeToo movement took off. On Wednesday night, Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman and 140 survivors of Nassar’s abuse were honored for their bravery with the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the ESPYs.

“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,” Sarah Klein — the first gymnast Nassar is known to have abused — said, accepting the award on behalf of the group. “We’re sacrificing privacy and being judged and scrutinized, and it is painful, but it is time.”

Take Action: Tell World Leaders to Redouble Their Efforts By Amending Laws to Prevent Sexual Violence

Klein’s sentiment was echoed by Raisman, who joined her in accepting the award.

“1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2004, 2011, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016. These were the years we spoke up about Larry Nassar’s abuse,” the gold medalist said. “All those years we were told, ‘You were wrong. You misunderstood. He’s a doctor.’ 

“The intention? To silence us. In favor of money, medals and reputation, but we persisted, and finally someone listened and believed us,” Raisman continued.

That person was Judge Rosemarie Aquilina, who presided over Nassar’s trial and earlier this year, sentenced him to up to 175 years in prison for abusing approximately 265 girls and women, many of whom were child athletes in his medical care. Aquilina, who attended last night’s award event, also allowed dozens of his survivors to read statements to their abuser during his trial and saw that they received justice.

Read more: Gymnast Aly Raisman Is Taking the US Olympic Committee to Court

“You helped us rediscover the power that we possess,” Raisman said, addressing Aquilina from the stage. “If just one adult had listened, believed, and acted, the people standing before you on this stage would have never met him. To all the survivors out there, don't let anyone rewrite your story. The truth does matter, you matter, and you are not alone.”

Raisman also filed a lawsuit against the US Olympic Committee and USA Gymnastics in March for their refusal to investigate allegations made against Nassar. She and Rachael Denhollander, the first woman to publicly accuse Nassar of sexual assault, have become champions of the #MeToo movement in the sports world.

“I’m just starting to realize how strong I am,” Raisman told People in February, “and I won’t be silenced.

The Arthur Ashe Courage Award, named for the American tennis player Arthur Ashe, and is presented during the ESPY Awards to individuals whose contributions “transcend sports.” Past winners include Billie Jean King, who campaigned for male and female tennis players to receive equal prize money, as well as Nelson Mandela and Caitlyn Jenner.