I'm kind of a wreck. Until now I haven't told anybody about this part of my life, not my parents, my friends, or even counselors. A shame that began 16 years ago has remained a deep, dark secret inside of me, but I would like to tell it now.
date of testimony: January 19th 2018
location of testimony: Lansing, Michigan
I’m kind of a wreck. Until now I haven’t told anybody about this part of my life, not my parents, my friends, or even counselors. A shame that began 16 years ago has remained a deep, dark secret inside of me, but I would like to tell it now.
My name is Anya Gillingerten. I’m not a number, and I currently work for Michigan State University, and I struggled coming and bringing forth my statement because I didn’t want to lose my job, but through the support of many, including all of the wonderful women involved in this case, and for the sake of all the little girls in leotards, I have to report this.
I was a junior at Mason High School. I was in the all top 10 for elite. At the age of 16 I was in a minor car accident in the winter. I went through the fence and I hit a tree. Even though my muscles were sore, I competed the next day. As many of you know, gymnasts always push through the pain.
I injured my spine at that meet and later on I learned I had fractured my bottom three discs and suffered nerve damage. I actually had to go get nerves cauterized in my spine. My parents took me to several doctors’ appointments but my pain remained. We had tried acupuncture, massage, chiropractic, reflexology, and the list goes on. We continued to look for other options.
Then my pediatrician referred me to Doctor Larry Nassar. The Doctor Larry Nassar. The best gymnastics doctor in the United States and world. He was finally going to help me. We were so honored that this renowned gymnastics coach (sic) was going to take me under his care. It was like our prayers had finally been answered. This amazing doctor was willing to take time out of his busy schedule to help me. It was like a dream came true. We had such high hopes. In fact, he cared so much he was willing to go above and beyond and squeeze me in between patients right before a big gymnastic meet. Later he was willing to stay late after hours.
He began fitting me in at the end of the day after my gymnastics practices, even after all the rest of the staff at the medical center had left. By doing this, I didn’t even have to sign in or pay a co-pay. He was doing us a favor and not charging us. That’s what he told me
On top of that he was at the Holt High School as their trainer, and we could stop by and he could make some adjustments. I remember he’d say, bring your friend Danielle. She’s also a patient of mine, and I can treat you both after school, and everyone here on Tuesday met Danielle, Doctor Danielle Moore, the one who convinced me to report you.
Larry gave us gifts, backpacks, shirts, a water bottle. He dumbed down his medical terms and was really goofy with us to try to get us to trust him, and we did, and the one thing that always sticks in my mind is at the end of every appointment he would give me this really long hug and assure me that everything was going to be okay and we were on the right track, and I always felt sick about that hug.
Now I would like to share the life that Larry has created for me. He began by molesting me. The details not any different than you have heard by all of the other victims. I have lost all trust in the medical field. I have not had a primary care doctor since my pediatrician and I am now 33. Since my spine injuries, that you promised to fix, I have spent about 90 percent of my life with debilitating migraines. I lose vision and I vomit and it goes on for days. I can’t describe the pain.
Three years ago I moved in with my boyfriend and have missed countless hours I could spend with his children that I love as my own because I’m locked in a dark room and I can’t tolerate any noise. I usually squint because light intensifies migraines to nearly unbearable heights, and people keep telling me I need to smile because I have an unintentional scowl on my face. My job requires great customer service and it is hard to fake that smile when I am in so much pain. I have gone to the ER a few times when there are no other options but I was dragged there kicking and screaming. My anxiety in the waiting room is through the roof and I have panic attacks. The anxiety has overtaken my life. The closer it came to the trial, the worst my anxiety got and the more panic attacks I suffered. There are days that I can’t even drive a car because my anxiety level is so high that I’m fearful I might panic and lock up in fear and be unable to keep control of the car.
The worst part is that I lost out on a relationship with my brother, Jake. I was too scared to tell anybody, but one day he came to my room and he saw me bawling my eyes out and he asked me what was wrong, and all I could tell him is that Larry Nassar touched me inappropriately. I couldn’t go into details, and he was the only person I told until I was 31. He was my big brother and I looked up to him and I needed him to take care of me. Although he tried his very best I just — I couldn’t open.
I remember the day that was the turning point in our relationship. We were at church and after the service he came up behind me and poked me on my side, just to tickle me a little bit, and I spun around and I slapped him so hard right across the face, and I ran off crying and I couldn’t have — I couldn’t handle a male touching me even though it was just my brother. Sorry. And I didn’t understand at the time, but I put all that resentment, the whole entire situation on my brother, and it ruined our relationship.
My parents didn’t know what was wrong. I was just acting like an insanely emotional teenage girl with anger issues. I was taught to love God with all my heart, but I thought the things that he did to me would send me to hell. I couldn’t tell my parents what he did because I didn’t know — I didn’t want them to know that I had already failed them and God and would spend eternity in hell. All of this not my choice.
And as an adult I know that sounds silly, but I grew up extremely sheltered. I had never kissed a boy at that point. I had never seen a gynecologist. I hadn’t even taken sex education at school because my parents didn’t feel that teaching of safe sex was appropriate. I had no idea what was supposed to be going on in a doctor’s appointment, but I trusted you.
For my child’s point of view, what kind of a God allows a monster to molest a child? And since there were no other options, and believe me I prayed like no one could pray, I had to return again and again countless times until I was ultimately broken.
My prayers were not answered and my dream had turned into a nightmare.
In high school I started cutting. That was my way of turning emotional pain into physical pain hoping for any kind of relief. My family had to learn to readjust how they approached every single situation around me without knowing what was actually wrong, and most of my teen years were spent feeling I was a failure and an embarrassment to my family. I developed an eating disorder and I weighed under 70 pounds when I graduated high school. It was a really, really confusing time for everyone since I wasn’t able to talk about it.
My mom asked me over and over again what happened and all I could describe was that I was hurting, and she just thought I meant my back. My family has suffered the most. I lashed out at all of the ones I loved because I knew they wouldn’t leave me. I was a happy, fun loving, bubbly little girl turned into a depressed, bitter, mess of a person. Larry stole my childhood, my innocence, my virginity, and my self worth.
Somewhere along the way I completely lost myself, through all the depression and pain I hated myself. I still do. I was in a downward spiral of self punishment and destruction and became introverted and isolated. I cut ties with pretty much all of my friends and I just disappeared, no explanation. At one point I refused to leave my house for over a month. I found working late night jobs were the best for me because I didn’t have to have interaction with a lot of people.
Eventually I took up drinking. If I could get drunk enough I could pass out and I wouldn’t feel the pain, mental or physical, but that eventually was not enough and I attempted suicide in college. I slashed my wrist and I was rushed to the hospital by an ambulance.
Why couldn’t I get a handle on the things that controlled my every waking hour? I didn’t know how to talk about it. I couldn’t make the pain and the fear go away. I ended up in a very abusive and dangerous marriage and it was — it was absolutely terrible. I must have done something terribly wrong to deserve that.
I suffered for 16 years with the constant back pain and now I have sciatic nerve pain which is making it really hard to walk, but this has been the hardest year of my entire life. I have not had a good night’s sleep since his name was first shown up in the news. This thing I thought I had buried was resurfaced.
I remember being at work and I was checking my work e-mail and a picture of Larry popped up on my screen with a note from President Simon. I went cold for a second and then a rush of heat came over my body and I started sweating and I almost threw up right there at my desk at work. I suddenly felt like everybody knew my secret. I felt like the university found out about me and they were notifying me personally. I was terrified.
Then I spent hours at the police station hashing over the little details that I spent 16 years trying to forget. For an entire year I tried to stay off the internet because every ten minutes something else popped up in the news. I couldn’t even get on Facebook without seeing his face plastered everywhere.
Sometimes I fall apart at work, the gas station, grocery store, the county fair, and the emergency room, and countless other places. It’s been a horrible journey and I’m glad it’s almost over.
Larry, my life with you is over. Raising children with Bill I see how my behavior has affected the children and my new family. I decided I have to take on the demon, so just this past December — I’m going to toot my own horn — I started seeing a chiropractor and this time I went by myself with no support person at all. I have obtained a female primary care doctor and I’m on medicine to help with my depression, and this would not be possible if the courageous group of people hadn’t come forward to end this battle and win this fight.
I can’t thank my family enough for being here. I want my parents to know that I never thought it was their fault. I never once blamed them, and I was angry and upset, and I may have lashed out but never once thought it was their fault, so please know through this that we have become a stronger family.
I have many scars to remind me every day that I am a fighter, that I’m supposed to be here, and that I matter. But, most importantly, I’ve learned it wasn’t me. It was not me, and I can say that knowing it was not me, and hearing all of these other women telling their story, gives me hope.
Another part that does give me some sort of relief through this entire thing is knowing that our eight year old daughter will never see you. She will never meet a terrible monster like you. And so not to just my family but all the support people in our lives, thank you for not giving up on us. Thank you for taking our pain under your shoulders and thank you, Your Honor, for letting us have a voice to let the world know and learn from this situation.
And in closing I would like to ask that Mr. Larry Nassar receive the maximum sentence. Thank you.
THE COURT: Thank you. I have heard your very strong voice, and I’m so glad you’re on this planet and not another. Suicide, you know, is not the answer. Do not let him win. God let all of his army of angels, you being one of them, be on earth to reveal what defendant did, and you need to trust that.
Your voice has been heard. You are a winner. You found your voice. I know you have a lot of therapy and recovery and all sorts of things to do, but I also see that today this big weight on you has been lifted. Your face when you approached me was that sour face you talked about. You let go of that.
MS. GILLENGERTEN: I feel like I can breathe.
THE COURT: You can breathe. Good for you, ma’am. You let that go, that bitterness. Leave it with him. And you are ready to become that fun, wonderful person that you miss. That little girl in you, the fun one is still there, and I know you have to share that with your family and your children.
Thank you for being that loud voice and for helping all other victims. You are a survivor. Thank you.
MS. GILLENGERTEN: Thank you.