Kayla Yax ’18: Growing up, I, like most girls, learned really quickly to protect myself from the shadows that lurk. From the time I was old enough to go out on my own, whether it was out with my friends, or walking to the bus stop alone, I’ve had a mental checklist I go through before I walked out my door and into the world. A plan of action just in case anything happens to me. Carry my keys clenched between my fingers, mace attached to my purse, I figure that it’s better to be safe than sorry.
But what happens when it’s not the strange man lurking around outside? What happens when it’s someone you know? Someone you’re supposed to trust? I’ve been asking myself that question more often the older I get. With each story that comes to light of sexual assault, it becomes clearer that it’s not just strangers to be careful of anymore. Almost every girl I’ve ever met has a story of sexual harassment or assault. It’s overwhelming to think about, but it’s the reality that we live in and it’s not new.
Larry Nassar; just one of the many monsters that have used their power to abuse young girls.
According to Time.com, As the USA gymnastics doctor, he sexually assaulted 265 women and girls. A predator with a Ph.D. He used his position to assault girls and cover it up as “examinations” for years. On top of his 60-year sentence to federal prison for child pornography, he was sentenced another 40 to 175 years for the multiple sex crimes he committed against the many girls that were under his care.
I’m grateful that Judge Aquilina presided over his case, she made it clear throughout his sentencing that there would be no mercy for him, over a period of seven days she cleared her docket to allow survivors of his assault to testify against him and tell their stories. She gave them a voice. Their bravery speaks volumes to me and a lot of women who followed the case, to face that kind of evil takes tremendous courage. He will rot in prison, that much is clear, but each of those survivors lives have been changed forever without a doubt. Even though they got the justice they so clearly deserve, I cannot imagine the amount of suffering that they’ve gone through. My heart goes out to each one of the strong women that endured his assault. Every one of their testimonies put the nail in his coffin.
This is part of a much bigger problem that women face. This is why women rally, this is why women protest, this is why women and feminists alike all around the world are furious because if it can happen to Olympians like Simon and Gabby it can happen to anyone. It does happen to anyone. But it’s not just the stories in the headlines, it’s not just celebrities and Olympians. It all women, women who don’t have a voice, who don’t have an entire country watching. It’s women of all races, religions, backgrounds, and ages. From the Hollywood hills to the ghettos, all around the world women have a story like theirs. So be kind, stand together, and listen.