Last Friday was the court hearing for Larry Nassar, the former USA Gymnastics doctor who has came under heat after being accused in countless sexual assault cases. As of this month, over 150 underaged girls have had enough courage to come forward with their stories. Instead of gaining the support that many of these brave women need at this time, the stories of their traumatic ordeals have came with backlash.
While most of us have been supportive, there are some people who have instead went to “victim-blame” and put the blame on the survivors for whatever reason. This has even been made by Team USA Gymnastic Olympic Gabby Douglas. In a tweet that was in response to a tweet made by teammate Aly Raisman (who has also came forward saying Nassar assaulted her) she’s since apologized for and deleted, she stated:
“however it is our responsibility as women to dress modestly and classy. Dressing in a provocative/sexual way entices the wrong crowd.”
Her tweet was met with criticism from several people including Raisman’s mother and own teammate Simone Biles. This has started the discussion on victim-blaming. Victim-blaming is when the survivor of a sexual assault is criticized for something people assume she did “wrong.” Questions are asked such as “what was she wearing?” “couldn’t she have fought back?” “why did she put herself in that situation?” All of these questions and statements are harmful. At the end of the day, instead of asking what she was wearing, ask the rapist why he decided to rape her. It’s never the her fault. Think about it, we live in a society where instead of shaming the rapists, we shame the people who come forward. Something is definitely wrong with that picture.
Some people also argue that they should have came forward sooner. Larry Nassar was a powerful man in the community, instead of asking why they didn’t come forward sooner, ask yourself why they couldn’t. And then mind your own business and support her because chances are she’s a lot stronger than you. If a survivor comes forward ten days after an assault or ten years after an assault, it’s still the same crime. It’s easy to point fingers and make assumptions when you’re the outside viewing in. People ask why survivors don’t come forward sooner, maybe it’s because of this very backlash everyone is giving out to the ones who have come forward.
Nassar has plead guilty to seven counts of criminal sexual contact with underage girls. During the multiday trial, several survivors have came forward to make their statements at the trials, one of many has been Aly Raisman who made a thirteen minute long speech – below.
“Larry, you do realize now that we, this group of women you so heartlessly abused over such a long period of time, are now a force and you are nothing. The tables have turned, Larry. We are here. We have our voices, and we are not going anywhere. And now, Larry, it’s your turn to listen to me.”