Sunday, January 14, 2018

Athlete A: She Has a Name

Maggie Nichols on the beam at the United States Olympic gymnastics trials in 2016, before she retired to compete at the college level. Credit

Gregory Bull/Associated Press 

Words we must hear from women who have come forward:  These are just two of the 140 (to date) victims of Larry Nassar, described within these articles as a highly reputable physician with "exceptional interpersonal skills," Sunday school instructor, and beloved community member.  Why does it take victims so long to report?  Read on. 

“Up until now, I was identified as Athlete A by U.S.A. Gymnastics, the U.S. Olympic Committee and Michigan State University,” Ms. Nichols said in a statement provided by her lawyer, John Manly. “I want everyone to know that he did not do this to Athlete A, he did it to Maggie Nichols.”

Ms. Nichols’s mother, Gina Nichols, said in a phone interview that her daughter finally felt comfortable speaking out after “living with this torment” for so long.

“We kept being told U.S.A. Gymnastics is handling it, so she just did what she was told to do, and she was told to keep quiet,” said Gina Nichols, who accused U.S.A. Gymnastics of a cover-up. “If she uses her voice and comes forward, she feels she might be able to help others.”

Denhollander said she hesitated to contact police for more than 15 years because "I was 100 percent confident that I would not be believed."

Nassar "was (MSU's) golden boy. He was USAG's golden boy," she said. "He was so loved in the community that I was very sure ... I would be crucified and he would end up empowered to know he couldn't get caught.

"What breaks my heart more than anything," she said, "is that all these women who came forward and did what I didn't do, that's exactly what happened to them."


I fully support hashtags and impassioned speeches.  They are the kindling of important action. 

If time is up, let's see how fast we can change policies and legal loopholes that keep perpetrators of abuse protected, that keep those harmed, silent.

Small changes with big impact could be made quicker than the passing of a 429 page tax bill. They would protect those who have been harmed or exploited, and limit the ability to cause further harm by those who are skilled at this practice.

Ready, set, remove:

Statute of limitations on reporting and prosecuting sexual violence

 The years it takes for young girls, young women, wise women, boys and men of all ages, to speak of the shitty shit that happens and limits their life does not fit into a tidy 2-5 year plan. Time's up on statute of limitations. It is a form of protection, for the abusive individual.

Hush money

We've already seen that this is a legal tactic of abuse. It often follows or accompanies multiple attempts to discredit or further frighten the individual who is reporting.
Most people who report are scared,  and remain scared at every stage of the likely fall out and consequences.
Abusive legal tactics maximize this fear.

Purchased silence:
-harms the victim by exploiting their fear
-emboldens the perpetrator
-places others at risk

Remove the option of those with an army of attorneys to write up an acknowledgment of what happened with disappearing ink and slip it into a sealed document.

Is time up?  Time will tell. 

In the meantime, keep speaking. 
Keep writing.
Keep sharing
Keep listening to those who are speaking. 
Keep looking for actionable steps to create concrete change.