Today, I thought I was going to write Chapter 2 of the Sooper Dooper Chronicles. I have been working on it all week. I was all ready to write it tonight, until I saw something that fired me up.
Larry Nassar, the team doctor at Michigan State University and the olympic gymnastics team doctor for years, was sentenced today to 175 years in prison. He should have been sentenced years ago. He should have been stopped years ago. He should have been.
Gymnastics was my sport. I lived and breathed gymnastics. Every.Single.Day. There are so many things that we are faced with as children and if we have some common sense and if our parents warned us enough, we know when something is not right. These little girls that he molested, didn’t have that opportunity. But you know what? They knew something was wrong. They told. But nobody would listen. Nobody would help them. It continued and it continued and it continued. This monster continued molesting kids for over 20 years. He molested over 160 children. That number is only the ones who have come forward. I would bet money it is double that number, if not more. This monster was enabled by many many people and organizations to continue molesting throughout his whole career.
It makes me sick that this happens in the sports world. I know this is not the only instance, but I bet it’s the worst instance, and it’s the instance I am writing about here. In no way, shape, or form am I dismissing other instances of abuse.
I listened to the victim statements of many of these survivors. Heart-wrenching. Gut-wrenching. The abuse they endured. Not only sexual molestation, but cruelty by coaches. Physically, mentally and verbally. The abuse is shocking. I am going to link a blog post here of a gymnast named Katelyn Ohashi. https://behindthemadnesssite.wordpress.com/2017/08/24/dear-standards/ Ohashi writes about the abuse, her abuse. About not being able to eat. About working out until she looked ready to practice. About becoming bulimic. The body image issues. My God. Do people not know what happens to girls mentally when things like this happen. It scars. It scars for life. The scar may fade, but it never goes away. The words never go away.
When I was in gymnastics, I was told I needed to lose 10 pounds. I weighed 116 at that time. There was no way I could lose 10 pounds. As I have written before, this developed into a full blown eating disorder called bulimia. What makes it so hard and actually kind of twisted, is that we look up to these coaches. We want to please them. We want to do well, even if they are hard on us. We want to do what they tell us to. They are supposed to be there to guide us and help us make decisions. They aren’t supposed to be there to mess us up. They aren’t supposed to be there to make us be ashamed of our bodies. I never went out my senior year. I didn’t like the coach. I got the creepy vibe from him. Thank God I am pretty good at listening to my gut and intuition. There was just something that told me I didn’t need gymnastics anymore. One of my teammates and I were at practice and the coach told us to lay on our backs, which was probably our best position anyway. I couldn’t believe I was hearing those words come out of a coach’s mouth. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know what to say. It shook us up. My teammate got an apology. I never did. I was pretty much done after that. I just couldn’t do it anymore.
The sport I loved. The sport I cherished. What did I get out of it? An eating disorder and a perv for a coach.
My experience is NOTHING compared to these girls. However, it was my experience. We all have our own hell. We all have our own experiences. We all do. One way my experience has helped me grow is because of it, I am now helping other people overcome these hells. This is the positive that came out of my hell.
I hope now by shedding a huge, huge spotlight on these practices that it stops. I hope the abuse stops. I hope ALL the abuse stops. I hope every single person responsible for letting this monster keep molesting kids is held responsible. They knew. They knew. They could have stopped him many years ago. If they had listened. If only they had not hidden it, so many of these survivors would not be in court verbalizing their stories.
These now adult women are brave and strong to come forward. Even if they didn’t want to, they still had the courage to do so. Their stories were moving, and emotional and eloquent and sad. You can’t help but empathize with them. And really, why wouldn’t everyone. As little kid women, they tried. They tried to tell and were stifled. They were innocent. They didn’t deserve what happened to them. If there is a good thing that came out of this it’s that they are now strong. They are now loud. They are forever strong. What happened to them does not define them. It empowers them.
Strong Women – Be Them – Know Them – Raise Them
“Each time a woman supports herself…she stands up for all women.” —Maya Angelou