date of testimony: January 16th 2018
location of testimony: Lansing, Michigan
Your Honor, Mr. Nassar sexually abused me over a number of years beginning when I was a young teenager. He broke me. He stole my innocence and exploited it for his own sick satisfaction.
All aspects of my young life was torn apart. I struggled in silence, shame, and confusion attempting to put the pieces of my life back together, but I will never be whole again. The pain of the abuse continues to make me feel broken, insecure, fearful, and overall worthless. At times these feelings become completely overwhelming that I engage in self destructive behavior and thought about killing myself.
Feeling worthless is an extremely difficulty emotion to describe. I would like you to imagine a time you turned off all the lights in a room and it was pitch black for a few moments before your eyes adjusted. Feeling worthless is like that pitch blackness but your eyes never adjust. You are just stuck in the darkness, a dark and empty space, and the more you search for any kind of light, the deeper you go into the desolate, apathetic, and fearful trap the darkness created. You blame yourself for not being able to pull yourself out of the darkness and, therefore, feeling — a feeling of worthlessness increases.
For other individuals their eyes would adjust or they would eventually find a light. This is not the case for me since this pitch blackness is in my mind and the darkness has grown and entailed itself in every facet of my life. I have tried to fight back against this darkness to feel worthwhile and worthy.
From others’ perspectives I may seem like hardened and accomplished. I have achieved so much. In 2009 I graduated from undergrad. 2011 I graduated with my first master’s degree, and 2014 with my second master’s degree. Then in 2016 I graduated with my doctorate, but I never once felt worthy of my accomplishments. I never walked during commencement because I’m not worthy of the praise, congratulations, and pageantry of such a ceremony.
I have previously engaged in self harming behaviors. I have stayed in abusive relationships when I knew deep down that I should run long before I did run. I have had good relationships that never lasted since I did not feel worthy of the honest and true love that was offered. I was stuck in the pitch blackness even though the other person was trying so hard to turn on the lights.
The physical damage has also been monstrous. In just the last four and a half years I have had three major back surgeries and too — too many steroid injections and nerve ablations to count. These real medical procedures were in the same area of my back that Mr. Nassar was supposed to be treating.
Because of Mr. Nassar’s complete lack of empathy and caring for my physical well-being, I still feel unworthy of a pain-free life or at least a life with minimal pain.
What I have described is just a brief overview of my life. To give you more context, Your Honor, the past year and few months have been the most difficult and trying time of my life as the sexual abuse resurfaced with even more intensity, and I have constantly relived the abuse. Because of this I had to resign from my job as I fell deeper into depression and no longer wanted to live. I was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and still suffer from nightmares, intrusive thoughts, anxiety, depression, hypervigilance, and much more. I spent 30 days in a trauma treatment center as my symptoms could not be controlled with outpatient counseling. After I received the treatment I desperately needed I had to move and restart my career and whole life from scratch.
The stress of constantly reliving the years have impacted my physical health. I have stomach problems where I can barely eat anything on some days. I have been hospitalized multiple times for back and chest pain and I developed a heart arrhythmia that has to be surgically corrected. Even though I’m doing much better, I still have days where I call my mom crying, have difficulty socializing, and lack motivation to do anything.
Your Honor, may I now address the defendant?
THE COURT: You may.
MS. D. MOORE: Mr. Nassar, I feel worthless because of what you did to me. You abused your power, authority, and stature to prey on myself and others who were young, already in pain, helpless, and without a voice.
I want you to be remorseful, apologetic, and truly understand all the pain that you have caused and still cause. However, I don’t believe that you are capable of this kind of empathy. But I am sure that you do feel sorry for yourself. So I hope that your self pity is as dark and more terrifying than my feeling of worthlessness.
Lastly, Mr. Nassar, you are no longer called a doctor. You have been stripped of your medical license and soon you will be known by your prison number for what I hope to be the maximum sentence. I find this fitting as I was a thing, inhuman, or just a number to you. While your name and former title fade, I hope being reduced to a number will define you as it has defined me for so many years. However, I pride myself on characteristics that you do not possess; caring, empathetic, and continually earning the respect of my patients, which is why I will no longer be known as a number and I will be known as Doctor Danielle Moore.
THE COURT: Ma’am, I want you to know that you are a name to me. You matter. You are an important person, have an important message. Your voice is important, not just to you but to the world, and the world is watching. Your value is immeasurable, and I want you to just for one second — I hope it doesn’t bother you, but I want you to look in back of you, turn and look in back of you, okay? Do you know why I did that? Why?
MS. D. MOORE: To see all the other faces.
THE COURT: You can see all their faces and all their faces are important, but it’s more than that. You talk about not being worthy. You are worthy. You are worthwhile. You are important. All these people here today, they are in support of you.
Why? Because you are a worthwhile human being. You are not in any way a bad or soiled person. This was done to you. It was not done by you. It was out of your control. You need to feel worthy. Your powerful words show me and all of the world that you are strong, a survivor.
And it’s not just about degrees. People can obtain degrees. You have the grit to go forward, positively, no self harming, no illegal drugs, nothing bad. You define goodness and you need to — you talked about being in pitch blackness. Your voice just turned on the light for others, but I think, more importantly, for you and for your healing, so, ma’am, I hope you remember this day as the beginning of that lightness, that journey to help healing, happiness, and proving to yourself that you are worthy, because you already have proven it to us. We know you’re worthy.
MS. D. MOORE: Thank you.
THE COURT: You have all of the support and the whole world is watching you and look what you just did. You spoke on behalf of all victims, most importantly yourself. That light is on. Thank you for being here.
MS. D. MOORE: Thank you.