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Aly Rose Raisman a legend in the gymnastics community.  Aly was born on May 25, 1994 to Rick and Lynn Raisman.  She was raised in Needham, Massachusetts along with her three younger siblings Brett, Chloe, and Madison.  This young woman is a decorated gymnast, model, a survivor, and a spokesperson for victims who have been affected by sexual abuse.  Many generations admire Aly for her work ethic, athleticism, and her ability to voice her opinions on issues that she holds dear to her heart.1

Aly was exposed to the sport of gymnastics at a very young age.  Lynn, Aly’s mother had competed at the high school level and had a great passion for the sport, and so she exposed Aly to gymnastics at the age of two years old.  This is where the love for the sport began before it eventually grew to be Aly’s passion.  As a young girl she enjoyed following the journey of the “Magnificent Seven” during the 1996 Summer Olympics.  This team became role models for young Aly to look up too as she was progressing in the sport.  Aly began training at the Exxcel Gymnastics and Climbing facility up until level eight.  As she became more competitive she transitioned to a new gym that was Brestyan’s American Gymnastics Club.  She had the great privilege of training under two great coaches Mihai and Silvia Brestyan.2

Aly Raisman competing on the Floor at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro | Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Throughout Aly’s career she competed in many different competitions that built up her success.  In July 2012 Aly competed at one of the biggest and most important competitions a professional athlete could dream of attending — the Olympic Trials.  Aly gave this competition her all, and she did not disappoint. She placed third place in the All-Around event in San Jose, California.  On the balance beam and on the floor routine, she placed first.  This remarkable performance led to her joining the Olympic Team that would attend the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. 3

Aly was now a part of the team that would be known as the “Fierce Five.” Being the eldest on the team, Aly was named the team captain.  At the end of July, Aly and her teammates attended the Olympic Games in London.  Aly assisted her team to qualify for the team final with first place who then went on to win the gold medal as a team.  Individually, she qualified with second place for the all-around event.  Overall, Aly won the bronze medal for the balance beam, and then won the gold medal for the floor exercise. She made history for the 2012 Olympic Games because she was the first ever American woman to receive a gold medal on the floor exercise.4

After the 2012 Olympics Aly continued training and unfortunately ran into an injury pertaining to her knees.  Slowly she was cleared to compete again and she began on her road to her next Olympic Games.  Going into the Olympic trials in July 2016 Aly was seen as the underdog at this competition because of the talent showcased by two incoming younger gymnasts Laurie Hernandez and Simone Biles. Aly made the 2016 U.S. Olympic Women’s gymnastics team.  The talented gymnast made history again because she and Douglas were the first U.S. women to compete at the Olympics back-to-back since the 2000 games.  The U.S. team qualified for the team final in first place.  The team known as “The Final Five” won the Gold Medal for the team event.  Individually, Aly Raisman won silver medals in the all-around and floor events.  Between the two Olympic appearances, Aly has a total of six Olympic medals making her a very decorated Olympic athlete.  With all the success Aly Raisman had, the media portrayed her as having the perfect life when in reality she was dealing with something terrible in her life. In 2017 Aly came out as one of the many victims of Larry Nassar.5

Laurie Hernandez, Aly Raisman, Simone Biles, Madison Kocian, and Gabby Douglas celebrating at the 2016 Olympics. | Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Lawrence (Larry) Nassar was born on August 16, 1963 to Fred and Mary Nassar in Farmington Hills, Massachusetts.  After high school he studied kinesiology at the University of Michigan and graduated in 1985.  Then, in 1993 Nassar graduated from Michigan State University as a Doctor of Osteopathic medicine. In 1997 Nassar went on to complete a Sports Medicine fellowship.  After this great accomplishment Nassar began working at MSU’s Department of Family and Community Medicine in the College of Medicine as an Assistant Professor. At this time, Nassar was well known for his work in medicine and was even commended for his research regarding injuries that affected the lives of many gymnasts.6

As Nassar’s career began to take off, he had the honor to work for the USA Gymnastics Team from 1996 until 2014.  The doctor had a great reputation which made Nassar seem like a good choice.  But in reality, he was not. Larry Nassar was a man who changed the lives of many women and men in a very negative way. He took advantage of young women and men in a sexual manner.7  In December 2016, Nassar was convicted of being a child molester.  The doctor had not just one accusation of sexual abuse against him, but two hundred and fifty women and one man placed accusations against him.8

Accusations about Larry Nassar came out quickly and en masse, which ultimately led to his conviction.  In November 2016, Nassar received state charges of sexual assault of a child from 1998 to 2005.  He was also charged with 22 counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct with minors.  On December 2016 Nassar was arrested due to having over 37,000 images of child pornography and videos of him molesting many young girls.  In 2017 all his hard work and dedication went down the drain when his medical license was revoked.  On July 11, 2017 Nassar pled guilty for possession of pornographic images of children from 2004 to 2016.  The doctor had even tampered with evidence and hid these images.  Judge Janet T. Neff decided that Nassar would serve sixty years in prison for his actions on December 7, 2017.  Then, on January 24, 2018, Judge Rosemarie Aquilina who determined that he would be sentenced for 40 to 175 years in prison for sexual assault of minors.  To add to all his sentences, by January 31, 2018, approximately 265 women had accused this doctor of sexual misconduct.  It is inevitable that Larry Nassar will spend the remainder of his life in federal prison for his actions.9

At the age of fifteen, Aly Raisman realized that things were not the way that they should be with her doctor Larry Nassar.  The. young gymnast stated that Nassar “does make me really uncomfortable and touches me in ways that are really weird and not normal.”10 No fifteen year old should ever have to deal with the circumstances Aly and many other women dealt with. According to Aly, the procedures that Nassar used never seemed to help her condition.  Aly also found it absurd that Nassar never used gloves during any procedures.  It was stated by Time Magazine, “According to Raisman and other gymnasts who have described the encounters, Nassar’s methods consisted primarily of invasive massage, touching the girls around their pelvic areas and vagina. The athletes were sent to Nassar for all types of pain, and he often suggested massage as the treatment.”11  Nassar took advantage of these innocent young girls because at this time they did not exactly know what sexual abuse is and the warning signs to look out for.12

Most of these young women that were sexual abused dealt with this while they were away from home traveling for competitions.  Nassar befriended the young athletes  to gain their trust so they would not suspect anything during his treatments.  He often surprised his athletes at their hotel rooms with snacks and little gifts.  The girls really appreciated the surprises and only considered it to be a kind gesture, and most thought nothing more of it.  These gymnasts trusted Nassar, and many considered him a friend. Nassar had a good reputation and most people thought very highly of him. This reputation led these girls to believe that the pain they were enduring was apart of the process of healing their injuries.13

Aly Raisman is not alone in the way she is feeling; many women are dealing with the same issues as she is.  Until recently, few accusations against Larry Nassar, which date back to 1994, were not taken seriously.  At least two hundred and fifty women and one man had to endure this inappropriate behavior for over the course of twenty years.  It is vital that the system change, not one individual should get away from this horrible act of sexual abuse.  In 2016, a former gymnast Rachael Denhollander committed an act of bravery by becoming the first individual to accuse Nassar of sexual abuse.  This action then started a chain reaction for other young women to come forward.  Soon many other gymnasts came out bravely and spoke out about the sexual abuse that they had endured over the years of training. According to Rachael she “has weathered attempts by USAG, Michigan State, even law enforcement to downplay their liability.”14 It is awful how this sexual abuse case was basically placed under the rug to protect the organizations.  Aly and her teammates Gabby Douglas, Simone Biles, Madison Kocian, and Laurie Hernandez all leaned on each other regarding the abuse they had endured.  Other well known gymnasts that also came out as being sexually abused where McKayla Maroney and Jordyn Wieber.15

Aly Raisman at the United States Capitol speaking as an advocate for survivors of sexual abuse | Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Aly Raisman’s life will never be the same after the sexual abuse she endured as a young girl.  Like many victims, this is an issue that she will have to deal with for the rest of her life.  Rather than letting this issue define her, Aly has decided that she will stand up and fight for what is right by becoming an advocate for sexual abuse. Many young individuals look up to Aly Raisman not only for her athleticism, but also for her courage, bravery, persistence, and leadership qualities.  Her goal is to educate others about sexual abuse, specifically warning signs so that others know what too look out for.  Aly strongly believes that by using her voice pertaining to this situation it gives her a new purpose.  She also works to connect with other young victims that have also been sexually abused to empower these individuals. 16

Since coming out with her story Aly has spoken at several events over the years.  She spoke out at the United States Capitol as an advocate of sexual abuse.  Aly Raisman and numerous other survivors of the USA Gymnastics team were awarded the Arthur Ashe Courage Award on May 16, 2018.  She has made her voice loud and clear on sexual abuse and has definitely made a difference for herself and many other individuals going through the same battle.17

On January 19, 2018 Aly Raisman and many other victims stood in front of Nasser in the courtroom. Raisman read an impact statement at his sentencing.  On February 28, 2018 Aly filed a lawsuit against the USA Gymnastics and the USOC.  Her reason for suing these two programs was because they “knew or should have known” about the ongoing abuse.”18 Raisman along with many other gymnasts felt as though the USA Gymnastics did not handle the situation correctly.  It seemed as though the organization really did not care about the issue that they had in front of them.  The Olympic Organization stated “We are very sorry that any athlete has been hurt by the despicable crimes of Larry Nassar. . . . USA Gymnastics is committed to doing everything we can to prevent this from happening again by making bold decisions and holding ourselves to the highest standards of care.”19

Aly has made it clear that this whole journey has been very difficult.  She describes that it is a very long process and she is still processing things.  Aly stated that at this moment she is focusing on herself because that is what she needs to do to get passed this.  She is focused on taking part in activities and spending time with people that truly makes her happy and content.  She feels disappointed with the USA Gymnastics  and the Olympic Committee for not prioritizing their athletes over a coach who had repeated sexual abuse accusations Aly has discussed that she isn’t sure if she will compete at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. 20

Sexual abuse is a topic in society many people like to avoid discussing. It has become an issue that many people have had to bravely face for many years. This issue of abuse has become extremely prevalent in collegiate and professional athletics. There are rules set in place for anything we do in life for protection and for guidance and some individuals chose to be disobedient. In colleges, Title IX is something to protect students from discrimination and anytime of harm. If reported this should be taken seriously, it is important that this be followed to protect the athletes and allow the issue to be taken care of appropriately if and when needed.21 There have been many cases for collegiate and professional sports that have not been investigated properly. Sexual abuse is an important issue and it can no longer pushed under the rug. The predator deserves consequences for their actions, while the victims deserve justice for what they had to go through. 22

  1. Wikipedia, 2019, s.v. “Aly Raisman.”
  2. Wikipedia, 2019, s.v. “Aly Raisman.”
  3. Wikipedia, 2019, s.v. “Aly Raisman.”
  4. Wikipedia, 2019, s.v. “Aly Raisman.”
  5. Wikipedia, 2019, s.v. “Aly Raisman.”
  6. Wikipedia, 2019, s.v. “Larry Nassar.”
  7. Wikipedia, 2019, s.v. “Larry Nassar.”
  8. Wikipedia, 2019, s.v. “Aly Raisman.”
  9. Wikipedia,2019, s.v. “Larry Nassar.”
  10.   Johnny Dodd and Megan Johnson, “Aly Raisman What I went through Was Horrific,” People, 22 November 2017, 62-65
  11. Alice Park, “Olympic Gymnast Aly Raisman Opens Up About Sexual Abuse,” Time International (Asia Edition) 109, no. 22/23 (2017): 20-21.
  12. Alice Park, “Olympic Gymnast Aly Raisman Opens Up About Sexual Abuse,” Time International (Asia Edition) 109, no. 22/23 (2017): 20-21.
  13. Johnny Dodd and Megan Johnson, “Aly Raisman What I went through Was Horrific,” People, 22 November 2017, 62-65.
  14. Stephanie Apstein, “A Sportsperson will…INSPIRE,” Sports Illustrated 129, no. 13 (2018) 86-90.
  15. Steve Heiling, “Aly Raisman I will not be silenced” People 80, no. 8 (2018).
  16. Steve Heiling, “Aly Raisman I will not be silenced” People 80, no. 8 (2018).
  17. Wikipedia, 2019, s.v. “Aly Raisman.”
  18. Wikipedia, 2019, s.v. “Aly Raisman.”
  19. Will Hobson ,“Aly Raisman files lawsuit against USOC, USA Gymnastics over alleged Sexual Abuse,” The Washington Post, 2 March 2018.
  20. Steve Heiling, “Aly Raisman I will not be silenced” People 80, no. 8 (2018).
  21. Nikki R. Breeland, “The Army You Created’: Combating the Issue of Sexual Assault in College and Quasi- Professional Sports,” 7 Miss. Sports L. Rev., Forthcoming (2018).
  22. Susan Ladika, Michelle Bangen, Lisa Wade,“Sports and. Sexual Assault: Can Colleges and Pro Leagues Curb Abuse by Athletes,” CQ Researcher, no. 16 (2017).

Ashley Martinez

My name is Ashley Martinez and I am from Taos, New Mexico. I am a Biology Major and will be minoring in Spanish. My plan is to become a Nurse Practitioner who specifically specializes in Pediatric Endocrinology. I enjoy being outdoors hunting, fishing, and hiking.

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Recent Comments


  • Vania Gonzalez

    This topic has probably been the most talked about for the past few years ever since the whole scandal went public. It is really horrifying knowing that these girls had to deal with this in a place they loved to be doing what they loved. Aly and all these other victims are extremely strong for what they had to endure and I think it is really brave what she is doing being an advocate; she is healing in the best way possible by helping other victims and educating others about sexual abuse. This was a great article and it is very well written.

  • Samantha Bonillas

    I find it crazy that Olympians such as Aly Raisman were sexually abused by the Olympic team doctor. I used to love watching Olympic gymnastics growing up and I looked up Aly Raisman. Her speaking up about her sexual abuse and now advocating for people who have experienced sexual abuse is inspirational. I cannot believe that Larry Nassar got away with sexually abusing them for such a long time.

  • Edith Santos Sevilla

    This article is very informative and it really shows the story. While I was reading I was able to understand the background and what type of life she had before the abuse and what ultimately led her to come out. It is sad that it took so long for the doctor to get reported and pay for all of the things that he made the little girls suffer.

  • Doan Mai

    Aly Raisman is such an inspired woman. She is an icon for young generations. Her achievement in the gymnastic field is undeniable. People saw her life as a perfect picture; however, she was sexually abused by a man named Larry. It is horrible to know a well-educated man like Larry had taken advantage of many men and women, which later on he was put on trial for that. It is very proud of Aly to speak about her life in front of many people to help raise awareness of this issue.

  • Kristina Tijerina

    This article covered an important topic. Larry Nassar took advantage of his job and used it as a way to molest young girls when they thought he was helping them recover. Every gymnast who came out as a victim during Nassar’s career was very strong. I enjoyed reading about Aly Raisman’s story, from beginning gymnastics to coming out as a victim. The way she has been handling the situation and turning it into something positive is amazing. I’m glad that she’s now able to speak out about sexual abuse to large crowds, and is able to connect with people who feel like they don’t have a voice. Sexual abuse is so common, and it’s important for it to be spoken about.

  • Jacqueline Mendez

    Very good article! I’ve never read about Ally before, I have only admired her from the Olympic team. She is truly the definition of remarkable and successful women. I had no idea that she is a victim of sexual assault and how she has risen from this attack to help others with similar events. She has become such a role model for women not only for her gymnastics but for her courage!

  • Sebastian Azcui

    This is a great article! It was very well written and structured. I have heard a little bit about Aly and what she went through in order to become one of the best. A lot of people suffer from sexual abuse and do not have the courage to speak up or confront the person that did it. But also a lot stand up for themselves and do it. Aly suffered from this and she spoke up, sadly the Olympic Committee and the USA Gymnastics association decided to not let her continue doing what she likes. The worst part is Nassar who did this to Aly and got away with it for a long time.

  • Judy Reyes

    Aly is, without a doubt, a very talented athlete. I remember watching her performances in the 2012 Olympic Games. She was quite an amazing leader with the “Fierce Five” behind her. I had no idea that she was a victim of Larry Nassar. It is sad to hear how many athletes he negatively affected. Aly is courageous and keeps on fighting everyday to overcome these obstacles.

  • Vanessa Quetzeri

    I heard about the allegations against Larry Nassar and I am glad he is doing time in prison. These girls must be traumatized after the sexual and emotional abuse they endured. I still cannot believe that he got away with this for a period of time, while these girls were not taken seriously. I am glad that Aly Raisman is taking time for herself to cope and power through these rough times.

  • Charli Delmonico

    This was a very good, relevant article. I recently watched a video where Simone Biles was talking about what happened with Larry Nassar, and how she is coping with everything. I still can’t believe that Nassar was able to get away with so much for so long. Sexually molesting anyone is incredibly wrong, and for him to molest minors who were competing at the Olympics shows how awful this man is.

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