Not because of this, but I have grown as a person and become stronger. I am a survivor. Here I am today facing my abuser. I'm finally being heard. I'm no longer hiding my story.
date of testimony: January 18th 2018
location of testimony: Lansing, Michigan
age at first abuse: 12
Thank you for having me, allowing me to be here and speak.
Being a victim of sexual abuse leaves you with a horrible feeling. Larry took advantage of me and many others. He abused his powers. He horribly manipulated me and invaded my personal boundaries. I’ve done gymnastics ever since I was six years old. I love gymnastics so much and always wanted to improve. I wanted to be the best gymnast I could possibly be. I loved being in the gym and learning new skills.
I was 12 years old when I started seeing Larry Nassar. When I found out that I was going to him and having him as my doctor, I was very happy and excited. Why wouldn’t I be? He was known as one of the best doctors in the world. I had someone I thought I could trust more than anyone.
His practices at MSU also made me safe. Why would it not? I was taught to trust doctors because they are there to help you so I trusted Larry.
You said that you would help me get better and I believed in you. He took advantage of me along with many other innocent lives. It hurt me most when I found out that you hurt my teammates, the girls I love most. I considered them my family.
When I was seeking treatment Nassar told me I had torn a muscle in my stomach. He assured me that he would help me heal. After the first visit Nassar insisted that I wore loose shorts at any appointment at MSU or his home. I didn’t understand at the time what wearing loose shorts had to do with my stomach. I now realize that he did it for easier access to my body. He even managed to sexually abuse me while my mom was in the same room with me.
He manipulated me so much that I didn’t know what was going on. Larry acted as if he was a friend. He would greet me with a sickening smile every time I saw him.
I remember him liking my posts on Instagram. It’s weird to think that an older male doctor was liking a little girl’s post and commenting Merry Christmas on Christmas morning.
I feel that MSU was an enabler. I should have never been assaulted there along with other girls. MSU knew of the assaults from ’97, ’98, ’99, 2000, 2004, and 2014. MSU needs to be accountable for their actions.
I trusted both of them. I was told it was a legitimate medical treatment. You were so nice to me, it made it easier to take advantage of me. It’s so sickening that he did that to me. Larry used an innocent 12 year old for his own pleasures. Larry Nassar is a monster.
Not only did MSU fail to keep me safe but so did USAG; complaints that came forward for so long and they did nothing about it. Gymnastics is supposed to be a safe and happy environment. USAG failed to keep their gymnasts safe. Shame on them.
This has had a huge impact on me. I get uncomfortable about what Larry was doing to me but he reassured me it was legitimate medical treatment and, of course, I trusted him because he was an Olympic gymnastics doctor. I got scared and avoided going to practices because the treatment made me uncomfortable even though he kept reassuring me that it was all normal. I avoided going to practice when I knew I would have to see him. The gym was no longer a happy environment for me. Not only did I stop going to his appointments but also physical therapy.
I kept things to myself. I didn’t want to have to tell my parents I was one of the patients abused by Larry Nassar. I didn’t want them to worry about me. When I finally came forward to my mom about the situation I couldn’t finish my sentences.
I stood there trembling and balling my eyes out. I didn’t want to face reality. I started to get anxiety after seeing all the news reports about him. I felt like I couldn’t breathe and I would tremble in fear. I have nightmares about what happened and I have trouble with sleeping. I’ve been put on anxiety pills just so I can function throughout the day.
It’s hard for me to trust people because of you.
I get scared and uncomfortable when I have to go to the doctors. I get scared that I’ll be taken advantage of once again by another doctor, just like you did. I try my best to trust doctors but I can’t. Larry ruined that trust.
I went through a time where I wouldn’t go to school. I would cry uncontrollably. I felt like I couldn’t be at school because I was a victim of Larry Nassar. I felt better alone in my familiar room.
I’ve tried my best to gain back the strength I once had. Nothing is easy at all. I just knew that I couldn’t let him take gymnastics away from me.
You, Larry, asked for forgiveness and want us to heal. This is all your fault. We wouldn’t be here in the first place if it wasn’t for you. We all would be living our normal lives, but, instead, you caused this issue.
I will never forgive you for what you’ve done to me. You’re a coward and a sickening man. You did this to me. You’re the one causing all this pain.
While all us survivors are carrying on with their lives and succeeding, you will be rotting behind bars where you belong. You don’t deserve to see the light of day.
Not because of this, but I have grown as a person and become stronger. I am a survivor. Here I am today facing my abuser. I’m finally being heard. I’m no longer hiding my story.
I ask that you give Larry Nassar the maximum sentencing possible for his horrid crimes that he has done over decades. Knowing that he’ll be locked up will help me feel safe.
I hope that abuse is brought up more and people become aware of how big the issue really is. It makes a difference. Have the abusers accountable for their actions. Thank you.
THE COURT: That was a very strong, brave voice, and I hope that now that you’ve spoken publicly you’ll leave your pain here with him and you live a long, happy life.
You are not alone anymore. All of these people support you. Your sister survivors support you, and it’s so important what you’ve done, because one of the first things you said is that you were so worried about your teammates and others that he did this to and you thought of others instead of yourself, and you are, with your young voice, helping countless other young people who are in the same situation who you don’t know about. You’re giving them the strength to come forward to their parent or their coach, somebody, and say, no, and that’s what you’ve done.
I’m so very proud of you. This doesn’t define you. This strengthens you, and you have shown that today. Congratulations, ma’am.
MS. ZERFAS: Thank you.