date of testimony: January 19th 2018
location of testimony: Lansing, Michigan
age at first abuse: 13
Beginning at age 10, I began having intense pain in my right hip. My love for sports or anything active blossomed while I was young. I participated in various sports but especially loved gymnastics, track, and horseback riding. However, as time progressed and my pain became worse I struggled to participate, gradually quitting everything I was involved in. It was difficult trying to be at peace about my circumstances while my friends were able to do anything without limits while I fought to walk without a limp. Physically I was in severe pain and mentally I was a broken mess.
By the time I was 13 I had visited doctor after doctor and not much could help me. My pain progressively got worse. Doctors attempted procedures hoping to cure my hip pain but these tests were often in vain and caused even more damage. A failed MRI with injected contrast left me with paralyzed nerves in my leg, which to this day still affects me. I will never forget how the doctor lifted me up into his arms because I was unable to move.
Not only were the tests and multiple misdiagnoses difficult to digest as a child, but the brutal honesty of doctors hurt. I was told by a doctor in Cincinnati to take up an instrument because you won’t be walking in the future. I remember sobbing on the way home believing my life would never be normal. I wanted to give up in the worst way and admit defeat, to take the easy route.
Following this my mom reached out to the OSU gymnastics coach asking for recommendations for a doctor, assuming the hip pain came from an injury involving competitive gymnastics I participated in for more than six years. She was given Doctor Nassar’s name. In the early spring of 2013 I went to Lansing, Michigan, to seek treatment from Doctor Nassar twice. At the age of 13, Doctor Nassar touched me sexually while my mom was in the room taking notes. He had me angled away from her so she wouldn’t able to see what he was doing to me. The initial appointment was very long, he repeatedly abused me. He also sexually abused me on the next visit.
I do not want to describe the abuse in detail. I do not want these images on paper nor replayed in my mind, although I have night terrors that all too easily bring me back to my appointments.
What hurts the most about this whole situation is how Doctor Nassar knew my emotional vulnerability and took advantage of me. I was only a child.
I eventually saw Doctor Ira Zaltz in Detroit, Michigan. After five long years of seeing new doctors, Doctor Zaltz correctly diagnosed my hip pain as hip dysplasia. In December 2014, at the age of 15, I underwent a major hip surgery. My childhood prior to abuse encaptures a long journey of physical pain intertwined with emotional suffering, and the abuse only made things a million times worse. Following the abuse I pulled away from my family. At only 13 I didn’t quite understand what was happening, but I knew one thing for sure, I would never tell anybody. I was ashamed, both embarrassed and disgusted in myself rather than of Larry. At the time I was in seventh grade.
School became increasingly difficult after he abused as my anxiety spiked along with my new, constant need for perfection. I felt anxious around my male teachers. I felt out of control and took any opportunity to feel I had composure and control of my own life. I fell into pour eating patterns, relying on physical starvation to find the control I craved. I became severely depressed and was suicidal for a very long time period.
In the few years after the abuse I pushed any thought away refusing to acknowledge what I had gone through. However, as time progressed I wasn’t able to continue to ignore what happened.
Three months ago I told my mom about what had happened at my appointments. The abuse infiltrated my thoughts on a daily basis and I finally felt the need to tell somebody.
I had just been to the psychiatrist who was puzzled about my recurrent night terrors that were seemingly out of no where.
THE COURT: Can you slow down a little bit? I know you’re nervous and I appreciate you talking publicly. Just a little slower, thank you.
MS. GINTER: My mom blamed the episodes on the anti-anxiety medication I’ve been taking long term. On the car ride home following my appointment I quietly told my mom that I knew why I was having night terrors and they weren’t about murder as I previously told her and my doctor. Rather, they encaptured graphic images of the abuse I endured.
Before telling her who it was who had sexually abused me she began questioning about who the abuser, was rattling off names of relatives, neighbors, teachers, my dad. It was hard enough telling her who had abused me, but it was absolutely devastating telling her she had been in the room.
Since telling my mom about the abuse I have difficulties living presently, often resorting to an emotional numbness and depersonalization to get through each day. I am still fighting with my emotions learning how to become more vulnerable once again.
I feel that sharing my story today, I am proving that I am still capable of being vulnerable. I suffer from PTSD and anxiety. I experience flashbacks. I have vivid night terrors most nights where I wake up paralyzed with panic. I still struggle with perfectionism. The abuse may have happened nearly five years ago, but I am still affected every single day.
I now attend weekly therapy sessions. I am often fearful of men and often struggle to without panic during conversations and touch with any male, especially doctors. I recently struggled when I had a male physical therapist and was unable to overcome this discomfort associated with his tough, although I knew he was safe. I do not allow myself to get close enough with anybody to have anything but a superficial relationship and I cannot bear the thought of intimacy. I cannot imagine getting over the abuse, but I am hoping to progress in therapy, with support, and on my own so that I am able to live comfortably, something I’ve not been able to do in a very long time.
I make myself clear in saying that I have been sexually abused because I am no longer ashamed of my past. I hope that I’m able to contribute to ending the stigma of sexual abuse within our society. I’m expressing my vulnerability so as to encourage those who feel insecure about any issue they feel they must hide because of how our culture has made them feel.
I have been sexually abused by Larry Nassar, but I will not let what happened define me. I will persist until I get the closure I need and to learn to view the abuse as something that has given me strength rather than something that has defeated me. I kept silent for years because I was so ashamed allowing you to hold the power over me. I am no longer the naive child I once was. I am a brave young woman who now holds the power over you.
Your actions have ultimately created a large army of strong, courageous, powerful young women who will stand together and fight against you until we have found the justice we deserve. I am done being ashamed of something that was out of my control. Today marks the beginning of a new era where I embrace an authentic version of myself, flaws and all.
THE COURT: Thank you for coming here openly and talking. You’re not alone nor is your mother. Yours is a story we have heard now dozens of time over.
You have nothing and never had anything to be ashamed about. Defendant is the one who is — needs to be ashamed. I don’t know if he feels ashamed or not. We’re never going to know. I don’t know if he feels at all. I know you feel, and what you should feel is proud and brave and strong and tall and so powerful he will never do anything like that to anyone again.
You’re safe here now. Your abuser cannot ever reach you, and I will take into consideration your wonderful statement.
You said you were vulnerable. Everyone is vulnerable. It’s what you do with those vulnerabilities, and what you have done is made yourself powerful and full of armor, but not armor where you have to hide. Your intelligence puts you amongst a very large army of survivors who will keep talking and protecting others, and that’s a huge role and responsibility that you’ve owned, and you’re up to the challenge, and I so thank you for being here.
MS. GINTER: Thank you