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McKayla Maroney Shares Her Story Of Sexual Abuse In Gymnastics — And She's Not Alone

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UPDATE 11/10/17:

Six-time Olympic medalist Aly Raisman has also accused team doctor Larry Nassar of sexual abuse. Raisman alleges she suffered the abuse after he began trating her when she was 15. She will talk about her experiences in an interview on “60 Minutes” that will air on Sunday.

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“I am angry. I’m really upset. I see these young girls that come up to me, and they ask for pictures or autographs, whatever it is. … I just want to create change so that they never, ever have to go through this," she says in the interview, according to USA Today.

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10/18/17:

#MeToo has, in just a few days, become an inspirational and important way for people across social media to share their stories of sexual abuse. Public accusations of sexual harassment and assault at the hands of movie executive Harvey Weinstein have sparked a necessary discussion of  abuse committed by men in power.

McKayla Maroney, former US gymnast and Olympic gold medalist, has shared her own story of sexual abuse. Maroney published a statement on her Twitter, where she says that former US Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar sexually abused her. In the statement, she describes a specific encounter with Nassar: “For me the scariest night of my life happened when I was 15 years old. I had flown all day and night with the team to get to Tokyo. He’d given me a sleeping pill for the flight, and next thing I know, I was all alone with him in his hotel room getting a ‘treatment.’ I thought I was going to die that night.” 

With all the allegations and stories surrounding Weinstein in the past few weeks, Maroney’s statement reminds us sexual harassment, abuse, and assault is not isolated to just the movie industry: “People should know that this is not just happening in Hollywood. This is happening everywhere. Wherever there is a position of power, there seems to be potential for abuse. I had a dream to go to the Olympics, and the things that I had to endure to get there, were unnecessary, and disgusting.”

Nassar was a top sports medicine doctor, physician at Michigan State University, and a US Gymnastics doctor for four separate Olympics. According to reporting from the Lansing State Journal, the accusations of sexual assault against Nassar began in 1998, beginning with the sexual assault of a six-year-old girl. It wasn’t until 2016, after numerous girls and women had shared stories of abuse, that Nassar was fired as a physician at Michigan State. He has since plead guilty to three charges of child pornography and currently faces a pending federal lawsuit for criminal sex abuse. A total of 119 women and girls have filed lawsuits against Nassar.

Maroney ended her heart-breaking abuse story with a profound message: “Is it possible to end this kind of abuse? Is it possible for survivors to speak out, without putting careers and dreams in jeopardy? I hope so.”  She adds, “Our silence has given the wrong people power for too long, and it’s time to take our power back. And remember, it’s never too late to speak up.”

Header image via Youtube, other image via Agência Brasil Fotografias, Flickr Creative Commons

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Kat Kothen-Hill is a BUST intern living in Brooklyn, NY.

Follow her on Twitter:@katkothenhill and on Instagram:kitkatkothenhill.

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