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Rachael Denhollander "I Stand With Every Survivor Who Has Stood Up Against Abusive coaches, And Valeri Liukin"

Rachael Denhollander, who was the first woman to publicly accuse USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar of sexual assault, took to Twitter to co...



Rachael Denhollander, who was the first woman to publicly accuse USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar of sexual assault, took to Twitter to comment on the news of Valeri Liukin heading Team USA at an international competition in Germany.

"I stand with @Kenzie_wofford and every survivor who has stood up against abusive coaches, and Valeri Liukin. This entire system is horribly broken, and intense courage will be needed to change it. Unacceptable to be here FIVE YEARS later," the 37 former gymnast wrote in a series of tweets.

Kenzie Wofford was one of the gymnasts who accused Liukin of verbal and psychological abuse.

She wrote that "being called fat, worthless, weak, stupid, idiot, etc. was a normal occurrence," in a complaint to the U.S. Center for SafeSport.



"I understand that current USAG rules state that the "head coach" is automatically whatever coach has the highest scoring athlete. THAT IS NOT AN EXCUSE and here's why: 1. We are 5 years past the Nassar scandal and Decades past warnings of abusive coaches...,"she continues.

"That is more than enough time to launch an independent assessment that survivors support, to assess who was involved in this system and who is not to be trusted with our children. THAT HAS NOT YET HAPPENED. It could have been done in a month. I've done it."

"2. There has been five years to figure out how to change the times so that coaches under investigation for abuse, aren't currently coaching. Because, you know, they might keep harming or children, and I think our kids are worth that proactive, protective step. It can be done."

"3. There has been 5 yrs to realize that a policy of selecting the head coach based on highest scoring athlete, could result in the head coach being someone who isn't actually best for the athletes. And that the current policy is literally based on winning, not safety."



"An independent assessment on culture, policy and structure to look back at what has gone wrong, examine the current dynamics, and provide recommendations and accountability going forward, would have addressed all of this. We've been asking for it for five years."

"Because these are the exact things that message to survivors, including those CURRENTLY experiencing abuse, that what they are going through is normal, necessary, even good, and that no one thinks it's a problem."

"Allowing a coach who has been credibly accused of specific abuse, to continue coaching, is a direct normalization of that behavior, especially to athletes currently experiencing that same behavior from that coach, or any other coach."

"It is also a clear statement that we don't think the alleged conduct is that big of a deal. When abusive conduct is normalized and minimized, you have perpetuated an abusive culture and abuse itself, and ensured dynamics that keep victims silent."



"It does not matter if younger athletes or even Valerie's athletes have asked for him, and here is why: We know from hundreds of gymnasts and in - depth understanding of abuse and trauma, that victims currently experiencing abuse or unsafe dynamics *cannot recognize it or speak*."

"For a victim currently experiencing unhealthy dynamics, their entire sense of what is acceptable, normal and necessary has been redefined by the atmosphere they were raised in. NOW, that does not necessarily mean Valerie's athletes *conclusively* are in that position, BUT..."

"We do know that this is the *normal* response victims currently experiencing unhealthy dynamics have, to the point that they often defend their abusers because their sense of reality and normalcy has been so shifted, and because they see the backlash for saying otherwise."

"The most serious issue right now is that the only way to protect CURRENT victims and athletes who may be victimized is to remove potential abusers, AND to redefine what is acceptable and normal so that as survivors see this redefined they can begin to understand what they were in."



"It is absolutely incumbent on the AUTHORITY figures to clearly send this message through their words and actions both. Victims in the system can't do this for themselves most of the time. USAG has not only failed to do this, they have done the opposite. Inexcusable."

"And before you say "but the policy" re read the thread. We've been asking for 5 yrs for an independent assessment to identify these issues and prevent these problems. It hasn't happened and it should have and could have. I've set up larger projects in a month. It can be done."



Megan Marenghi, Katelyn Ohashi, and Vanessa Atler have said that they developed an eating disorder while training under the 55 year old coach.

Earlier this month, Liukin was in the running to be named the high-performance director for USA Gymnastics and considered the favorite to earn the gig. However, Gymcastic later reported that he is no longer under consideration for the position.

In 2016, he was named the coordinator for the United States women's national gymnastics team, replacing the retiring Márta Károlyi. He resigned less than 18 months later amid the USA Gymnastics sex abuse scandal.

According to  Indianapolis Star, the Russian American former gymnast turned coach praised the Karolyi Ranch back then, saying he "grew up in that system." He saw little need for change. "There is no point in changing something that isn’t broken," he said. "There is nothing new for me. I believe in it."

Liukin is set to be part of the delegation at the EnBW DTB-Pokal World Cup in Stuttgart, by virtue of being the personal coach of several of the US team members, hence won't be heading the team as previously reported.


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