date of testimony: January 16th 2018
location of testimony: Lansing, Michigan
age of first abuse: 15
MS. HALICEK: Thank you for letting us speak, first and foremost.
Larry Nassar used to be an absolute god to me. I just turned 15 and was training for level 10 gymnastics. I had worked so hard to get there and I, along with my family, had sacrificed so much to get to that point. My spine was badly fractured and my life, but more important to me, my gymnastics career was falling apart.
He was the only one I was wildly assured who could really help me, help me further than any other doctor had helped me so far. He was just so talented and brilliant, they said. Indeed, he did seem impressive.
He was absurdly nice and did everything he could to make me feel comfortable the second I met him. He smiled widely each time he saw me and on the surface it felt like he genuinely cared for me. It seemed like he was determined to help me get better and that gave me another level of certainty. Most of all, he gave me hope. I thought he was the most trustworthy doctor I ever could have imagined. In my innocence I felt that I would have done anything — anything to heal my fractured back and not quit the sport I loved and persisted through since I was two years old.
Gymnasts are tough as nails. They will fight. They will bleed. And they will persist all for their dreams. And that’s exactly how I was.
I still remember Nassar calmly and vaguely assuring me that his treatment regiment might be a little uncomfortable but that it would surely help to heal my pain and return me to the sport I loved.
These were just the magic words I was looking for that none of the many other doctors I had previously seen would tell me. Here I was a scared little girl in excruciating back pain, willing, begging even to suffer through for my sport. This grown man confidently offered me salvation, healing, and freedom, and I trusted him, but he turned out to be a monster.
I am disgusted — disgusted that Larry Nassar, the trusted adult, authority figure, and famous doctor had the audacity to use his incredible power, prestige, and influence to sexually abuse me, a little girl, right there in his office in the safest and warmest of places with such an overlying sense of healing and recovery. I was counting on him. He broke in loudly without consent or restraint. He was an unwarranted intruder to my most private, intimate, never before touched places without warning, without gloves, and without explanation.
And so again and again and again he abused me all the while telling me wild tales of his Olympic journey and his family, very confidently, suavely even, trying to distract me from the un-distractable.
It certainly seemed and, unfortunately, viscerally and physically felt like he had done this treatment many times before. This was yet another reason I desperately told myself to trust him.
Treatment after treatment with Nassar I closed my eyes tight, I held my breath, and I wanted to puke. My stomach pierced me with pain. To this day that pain and these feelings are still there.
Each appointment with him I desperately waited for it to be over, to be healed, putting every last drop of faith in him. I remember being embarrassed each time I rose off the table because it was so obviously drenched with sweat.
Then one day after his prolonged and consistent abuse he finally gave me my fate. My back could not be healed and I had to quit my dream. He had all of his visits of fun with me and then sent me away depressed, dejected, molested, and confused, now alone to part ways with my deepest love, gymnastics.
My innocence was ruthlessly taken away from me never to return.
This was such a dark period in my life that still today is difficult for me to revisit. As I stand here I still flashback to the feelings of fear laying frozen in his office, my sweating, shaking body, adrenalin pumping, painfully clutching the sides of the table waiting for this sick treatment to be over. My little child self, smarter and more astute than I gave her credit for, knew something was wrong but she was petrified to the point of physical and emotional paralysis as she tried so hard to keep trusting this man she thought was her savior, vigilantly ignoring how she felt and what was really going on. I was so afraid to talk to anyone.
The most confusing part was that my mother was in the room with us while this happened. He strategically placed himself between us and skillfully obscured what was happening. I felt a disoriented sense of safety since my mom was there, and, after all, he told me it was going to be uncomfortable. What I didn’t realize, she couldn’t see exactly what was happening. This sickens and continues to baffle me to this day.
Larry made me believe that this was my only hope. That he was my only hope. Besides, all the other adults around me told me so, and I so shut my eyes so tight that they hurt and I held my breath. I summoned that notorious gymnastic strength and I marched forward.
For years I had this atrocious secret and fear. I felt so much shame and embarrassment. I suffered but I told myself to be tough. When the reports about him started trickling out I just knew I was right all this time and I wasn’t alone.
Then my world swiftly stopped. Everything I had pushed away for so long came over me like a waterfall. All my denial, repression, and depression that had been present and underlying there all along overcame me. My trauma reopened anew; a fresh deep wound.
While the constant news following Nassar this past year has been vindicating at some points, it has mostly been cruel and exhausting. I relive my pain each and every day questioning why he did this to us and never finding the right answer.
I completely dropped out of my life this past year as the gravity and wickedness of Nassar’s serial abuse has overcome me. Months at a time I did not leave my bed, sometimes questioning why I was even alive, all while his touch continued to violently linger on my body as it does today. I lost my wits. I screamed. I woke up crying. I went to bed crying. I did not, I still do not understand.
These uncomfortable, invasive memories are my reality now. The imprint of his face and abuse hinder my life which at times has turned into a nightmare. Crippling complexes such as paranoia, anxiety, depression, sexual issues, and insomnia, to name a few, have all taken their unique and oppressive turn at overshadowing my life as a direct result of what Larry Nassar did to me. Then and now his abuse has cost me.
It is important to everyone hearing this that to this day I still do not feel safe. The world feels unsafe. Men feel unsafe. I can’t sleep without a night light. I’m paranoid when I walk anywhere alone, looking around every corner constantly believing I’m about to be attacked. If someone enters a room without announcing themselves I jump and border on the edge of a nervous breakdown.
I’m intensely vigilant that someone, somewhere, whichever place I might be is about to take advantage of, sexualize, or hurt me.
There are oftentimes I shield myself from the world and pray that men don’t find me appealing lest they target me, manipulate me, and hurt me like Nassar so smoothly did. I feel disconnected from the world, alone, and in pain. I couldn’t trust anyone to keep me safe back then and I can’t trust anyone to keep me safe today. I have lost my ability to be confident with myself and others.
To those at MSU, USAG, and the USOC who knew about Larry Nassar and did not act, the sin of omission is just as bad as the sin itself. As if dealing with the intense publicity and pain around Nassar wasn’t enough, you have added a heartless, depraved level of denial and victim shaming to the mix.
You have said terrible things. For example, that victims didn’t understand the nuanced difference between sexual abuse and medical treatment and it is virtually impossible to stop a determined sexual predator on your campus. This is disgusting.
Do you know how the statements make us feel? Do you understand the impacts of our words? Do you know how these statements put other victims in the state of fear so deep that they may never come forward?
Your actions are abusive in and of themselves. Your attitudes of apathy and dismissal have made the healing process particularly difficult, especially because you haven’t taken actions to produce legitimate investigations. This means that every day we still have to remind ourselves it’s okay that we came forward. What happened to us is very, very real, even though we so desperately tried to deny it for so long.
I recently learned that Nassar’s crimes could have been prevented as early as 1997 when the first brave woman came forward. Learning our abuse could have been prevented but instead flourished for decades is a bitter and nauseating pill to swallow.
Adults were enamored by Nassar because they experienced all of the trustworthy, impressive, illustrious talented elements of him, minus the abuse. They wanted to protect him, and now that the act is up, they are emotionless and indifferent, lackadaisically managing the issues they once overlooked and placing their limited information on evading responsibility as opposed to taking ownership. Shame on you.
I’m only now beginning the long road of healing. I am so grateful for the incredible women who have come forward and made it possible for me to be brave enough to tell my story. I don’t know where I would be without you.
Thank you to my incredible loved ones who stood by me on my darkest and scariest days saying I love you and I support you. As much as Larry Nassar’s abuse has cost me so much of my life, I am determined that it won’t affect me in the future. I will do what it takes for as long as it takes to heal so that this no longer has power over me.
I promise you that I won’t stop fighting. In my heart I know this is my time and this is our time. Thank you.
THE COURT: Thank you so much. Those were really powerful words, and you started out, you often wondered why you are alive. You are alive to be that role model and join in the strong voices of the other victims as one to say, no more. You’ve taken your power. He had taken it but now you’ve taken your power back. It’s a super power. He no longer has anything over any of you and, ma’am, you are one of those incredible women that you stand with.
Listening to all of you and hearing your words especially, I have the impression that this has cost you to fear so much that you feel that the world is more bad than good. I’m hoping that tips for you.
That as he’s behind bars you realize that there really are more good people in the world than bad. Sometimes sitting on the bench I have to remind myself of that as well. I’m hopeful that you will come to that place and realize the world really is a good place and one by one we are uniting and putting bad people behind bars so you can sleep at night with or without a night light.
Thank you so much for your words. They mean a great deal and they’re a part of that rippling effect that you are all creating around the world.
MS. HALICEK: Thank you.