Over one hundred women took the stage at the 2018 ESPY Awards to shed light on sexual abuse along with also receive the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at Wednesday’s ceremony.
A total of 141 female athletes, including Aly Raisman, gymnast Jordyn Wieber, Tiffany Thomas Lopez along with also Sarah Klein, were representatives for all the survivors who spoke out about the abuse they endured by their team doctor, Larry Nassar, over the past decades.
Presented by Jennifer Garner, the actress took the stage to give a passionate message about the USA gymnastics along with also Michigan State University athletes who claimed they were sexually abused while doing their best to make their dreams come true.
“We’re about to tell you a story in which will be difficult to hear. the item’s a story about what can happen in sports when something goes terribly wrong, when the dream of being an athlete turns into a nightmare,” Garner expressed. “Even if the story we’re about to tell you will be hard to hear, we have to hear the item.”
Her speech was followed by a powerful along with also emotional video where Raisman, along with many additional brave women, retold their story along with also vowed to never let the item happen again.
Following the clip, Klein was first to give a speech, stating: “the item will be a privilege to stand up here today with my sister survivors as we represent hundreds more who are not with us tonight. Make no mistake, we are here on This kind of stage to represent an image for the planet to see a portrait of survival. Speaking up along with also speaking out will be not easy. Telling our stories of abuse over along with also over again in graphic detail will be not easy.”
Raisman also opened up about her experience, explaining in which her teammates would certainly report the abuse, yet went unheard.
“1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2004, 2011, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016. These were the years we spoke up about Larry Nassar’s abuse,” the gold medalist began. “All those year’s we were told, ‘You are wrong, you misunderstood. He’s a doctor. the item’s OK. Don’t worry. We’ve got the item covered. Be careful, there are risks involved.’ The intention? To silence us in favor of money, medals along with also reputation.”
“however we persisted, along with also finally, someone listened along with also believed us,” she added, thanking Circuit Court Judge Rosemarie Aquilina, who was in attendance along with also who sentenced Nassar up to 175 years in prison for sexual assault in January. “Perhaps the greatest tragedy of This kind of nightmare was in which the item could’ve been avoided.”
“Predators thrive in silence…Whether you act or do nothing, you are shaping the planet we live in… All we needed was one adult to possess the integrity to stand between us along with also Larry Nassar. If just one adult had listened, believed along with also acted, the people standing before you on This kind of stage would certainly have never met him…To all the survivors out there, don’t let anyone rewrite your story. Your truth does matter. You matter along with also you are not alone.”
Prior to presenting the women with the award, ET’s Nischelle Turner spoke with Garner backstage about presenting the athlete’s story.
“This kind of will be a very intense moment,” Garner stressed. “Just to be there for these women, however I think when you’re there for someone… You know, when I first watched the package to do the voiceover, along with also then last night we had a very long rehearsal, in which was truly important to me because I knew I needed to get my emotions out before tonight, because the item’s not about me, the item’s about them. So I will not let myself go there. I will be there along with also just, I’m just there to serve them.”
The actress also shared in which she spoke with her children about feeling safe along with also knowing when to talk to your parents.
“This kind of morning, actually, I was telling them about where I’d been last night because I missed bedtime along with also I was just telling them along with also the item opened up a conversation in which I wouldn’t have had This kind of morning,” she shared. “the item’s so important to find a way to talk to our kids along with also help them know in which they’re always safe coming to us. They can tell you anything, anything. I don’t know, I bumbled my way through the way anyone would certainly, however the item will be, the item’s just truly important to keep the conversation going.”
Nassar was a doctor for USA Gymnastics for 30 years along with also was accused of sexually abusing more than 100 young girls over in which time. Raisman, McKayla Maroney, Simone Biles along with also Gabby Douglas are among the women who have accused Nassar of abuse in the past. In November, he pleaded guilty to seven counts of criminal sexual conduct. In January, the former Team USA Gymnastics along with also Michigan State University doctor was sentenced in Ingham, County Michigan, to 40 to 175 years in prison for sexually assaulting athletes under his care. Nassar, who will be currently serving a separate 60-year sentence in federal prison for child pornography, was also sentenced to one more 40 to 125 years in prison for sexual abuse in Eaton County, Michigan.
For more on the scandal, watch below.