After being denied the opportunity to speak at Larry Nassar's trial by the judge, US Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman shared her heartbreaking testimony letter to The Players Tribune.

The three time Olympic champion began her letter by explaining why she chose to write it. She hopes that "it will help others understand the profound impact Larry’s abuse has had on me, how his betrayal of trust has changed me and how his actions years ago continue to affect my daily life".

Last month, Raisman revealed that she was one of the many gymnasts who fell victim to the disgraced team doctor Larry Nassar's sexual abuse. She said that he started treating her at the age of fifteen which was when the alleged abuse started.

Raisman wrote in the letter that she was taught to trust doctors hence believed that "you had my best interests at heart, and you made sure that message was reinforced, insisting your inappropriate touch was for medical reasons".

Nassar manipulated his victims into thinking that he was a good person and their friend " so that we would trust you, to make it easier for you to take advantage of so many people, including me. But you lied to me. You lied to all of us."

She explained that how his abuse took a toll on her that she has a hard time trusting other doctors.

"When I go to the doctor, especially a male doctor, I am scared and uncomfortable. Even if that doctor is recommended as the best, I am skeptical because I was told you were the best, and you certainly weren’t. I am afraid that another doctor will mistreat me and abuse his power like you did. In turn, I feel guilty that I harbor these doubts and suspicions."

She recalled how she avoided certain treatments that gymnasts rely upon, especially during intense Olympic training in the fear of having the abuse happen again.

"I should have gotten massages three times a week or so, but I was too afraid (even if the therapist was a woman). I lost confidence in my recovery, and this uncertainty began to undermine my training. Even today, I find myself scared that something bad will happen to me when I seek any medical treatment."

Larry's abuse made her overwhelmed by anxiety describing how she couldn't breath or even sleep well due to having terrible nightmares. The anxiety was to severe that she had to see a therapist ' a female one' who put her on prescription drugs which resulted in her having a bad reaction and losing consciousness.

She woke up to her terrified mom calling 911. She was loaded into an ambulance and taken to the hospital. Her doctor recommended that she tries other medications to help her cope.

After this experience, she decided she needed to allow herself to feel what she had been suppressing for so long. she had spent so much time and energy trying to block out all the pain and trauma, and I realized it was just too much for me to contain.

"It was the most difficult period in my life. I was exhausted, barely able to do things I loved. I had no energy. I felt sad, anxious and confused. I couldn’t understand how someone could be so evil. And, painfully, Larry and his actions made me hate gymnastics for a time. Larry, you made me feel so uncomfortable and sad, and you made me believe the sport had let me down."

While it is not easy, she fights hard to believe that the sport, she loves, is independent of Larry and those who allowed him to abuse her.

"I’ve decided that I can’t let him take gymnastics away from me."

The 23 year old gymnast also wrote that still has her triggers despite her coping mechanism as finds herself constantly looking around, paranoid and afraid to be alone.

"When I am at a hotel by myself and I order room service, I worry a male will deliver the food."

"I’ve had to develop strategies and coping mechanisms. If a male knocks on the door, my heart begins to race. I hold the door open as he drops off the food and keep it open until he leaves."

"I often wonder if I am hurting their feelings by being so obviously distrusting of them. I always used to give people the benefit of the doubt, but if a decorated doctor who served on the national team for over 30 years turned out to be a monster, then how can I trust anybody? Now, I’ll often catch myself being scared that people I meet are like Larry. And I hate that. I hate that Larry took away my trust of others."

Because of Larry, her friendship with one of her best friends has suffered as she has also fallen victim to his abuse. 

"I thought we would be friends forever because we had gone through the best and worst moments together. But I think I remind her too much of what Larry did to us, and our friendship has suffered."

Written by Gigi Farid



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