The cohort of 141 women were accepting the Arthur Ashe Courage Award, which is presented to those who have shown “strength in the face of adversity, courage in the face of peril and the willingness to stand up for their beliefs,” as outlined by ESPN.
The recipients of the award, who also included Sarah Klein and Tiffany Thomas Lopez, were given a standing ovation as they walked on stage.
Klein, Lopez and Raisman all articulated the pride that they felt standing among their “sister survivors” and the importance of speaking out against abuse.
“We are here on this stage to present an image for the world to see, a portrait of survival, a new vision of courage,” Klein said.
“As a mother, I am here to say that we must start caring about children’s safety more than we care about adults’ reputations. And as a survivor, I’m here to say that if we can just give one person the courage to use their voice, this is worth it.
“If one more victim of sexual abuse feels less alone tonight, then our suffering has meaning.”
Lopez emphasised the significance of addressing topics that are often perceived as taboo in society, saying: “There are a lot of conversations in our society that we tiptoe around as if they’re something to avoid.
“I know in my life, I’ve seen people look that way at two issues extremely personal to me: race and sexual abuse.
“Sexual abuse claims victims in every race, showing no discrimination.”
Raisman thanked Judge Rosemarie Aquilina for sentencing Nassar, the disgraced former USA Gymnastics team doctor, to jail, who received a sentence of 40 to 175 years in prison for sexual assault and 60 years for child pornography charges.
“This past January, Judge Rosemarie Aquilina showed a profound level of understanding by giving us each the opportunity to face our abuser, to speak our truth and feel heard,” Raisman said.
“Thank you Judge Aquilina for honouring our voices. For too long, we were ignored, and you helped us rediscover the power we each possess.”
She continued, stressing to any victims out there watching her speech that they are not alone in their struggle.
“Too often abusers and enablers perpetuate suffering by making survivors feel their truth doesn’t matter,” she said.
“To all the survivors out there, don’t let anyone rewrite your story.
“Your truth does matter. You matter. And you are not alone."
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