For Aly Raisman, The Fight To End Sexual Abuse Is 'Bigger Than Larry Nassar'

"I think we have to change the way our society views women."

Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman appears on the cover of ESPN The Magazine's Heroes Issue, and she's opening up about her decision to become an activist in the fight to end sexual abuse — starting with her decision to testify against former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar earlier this year.

In an interview with Mina Kimes, Raisman says the problem is "so much bigger than Larry Nassar," referring not only to the institutions and individuals who enabled his abuse to continue, but also to the world at large. "I think we have to change the way our society views women," she said. 

Although Raisman's role as an activist comes with pressure, she understands how important her platform can be in spreading the word. "There are so many people out there that are survivors, but there are few that have a voice," she told the magazine. "I know that I'm one of the few that are being heard, so I just want to do right by people."

She compared her determination to end abuse to her determination as a young girl aspiring to be an Olympian. "I felt when I was younger that I was going to go to the Olympics," she explained. "And now I feel that I'm going to help fix this."

Raisman has been doing everything she can to make that happen. Her campaign Flip the Switch is educating adults in how to prevent sexual abuse, with Raisman signing certificates for training completion. She has also spoken out against victim blaming and campus sexual assault on Twitter. 

Earlier this week, Raisman was one of 141 survivors who received the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at this year's ESPYs. The audience gave the recipients a standing ovation, and Raisman spoke along with fellow survivors Sarah Klein and Tiffany Thomas Lopez.

"The ripple effect of our actions — or inactions — can be enormous, spanning generations," she said. "Perhaps the greatest tragedy of this nightmare is that it could have been avoided. Whether you act or do nothing, you are shaping the world that we live in. Impacting others. All we needed was one adult to have the integrity stand between us and Larry Nassar."

She added, "We may suffer alone, but we survive together."

Cover image: Featureflash Photo Agency / Shutterstock.com

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