by Kelly Langevin
Sexual assault in the twenty-first century is poisonous. It floats through the air touching skin, leaving haunting scars and bruises for those sadly mistaken as an object instead of a human being.
The body remembers things that the mind tries to repress. However, although sexual assault is becoming normalized, women have become stronger, realizing they are not weak for sharing their story, but are instead heroes for fighting the toxins brushed upon their body.
Larry Nassar, the former doctor for United States of America Gymnastics, has been taken down by the women he had abused over the years, receiving a sentence of 175 years for child pornography and multiple accounts of sexual abuse.
More than 150 women and teenagers publicly confronted Nassar during a long and agonizing seven-day hearing in the Ingham County, Michigan Circuit Court Room.
Olympic gold medalist Aly Raisman took a stand, her speech shocking the nation. Her heartfelt and empowering words grabbed people in the courtroom and caused those who watched at home to truly feel her pain. Her case showed that sexual assault in the twenty-first century is often pushed aside and buried. Still, Raisman conquered the room, making sure her voice was heard.
“I have represented the United States of America in two Olympics and have done so successfully. And both USA Gymnastics and the United States Olympic Committee have been very quick to capitalize and celebrate my success. But did they reach out when I came forward? No,” Raisman stated.
Raisman blasted the people that should’ve protected her, but sadly didn’t because they took the word of the manipulator, Nassar.
Raisman followed 70 others who had come before her to address her side of the horrible experiences she endured over such a long period of time. Still, not every girl or woman had the strength that Raisman and the other victims have when it came to sharing their story.
“No one should hide the fact that they got sexually assaulted. They should be straight up about it,” Julianna Rinaldi, a freshman at Central Connecticut State University, said.
Coming forward isn’t always easy to do and it sometimes takes others to prove that, while sexual assault in the twenty-first century is very real, it can often be stopped.
“I didn’t think I would be here today. I was scared and nervous. It wasn’t until I started watching the impact statements from the other brave survivors than I realized I, too, needed to be here,” Raisman asserted.
Sexual assault is a hard concept to grasp for some, but not something that should be ignored. For some, the twenty-first century has taken over certain ideas that women should be used, not loved. Music, in particular, has shaped the way men have treated women and may still be a small cause for such a large issue. Besides music and general ideas, it’s time to step up and stare sexual assault straight in the eye and make the abusers, like Nassar, pay for the mental and physical abuse that they’ve inflicted on others.
“I think some people don’t take sexual assault seriously because not everyone knows what it does to people like Aly Raisman and Simone Biles and other girls he abused. Not everyone cares because they didn’t go through it,” Emily O’Connor, a freshman at CCSU, commented.
Like O’Connor, Raisman said she believed that there is hope for the future.
“My dream is that one day everyone will know what the words ‘me too’ signify. But they will be educated and able to protect themselves from the predators like Larry so that they will never ever, ever have to say the words, ‘me, too,’” Raisman said.