BY VICTORIA MESCALL
Editor in Chief
On Monday September 24, 2018 Olympic gold medalist and former Team USA gymnastics captain Aly Raisman spoke at Sacred Heart as part of the Student Affairs Lecture Series.
Editor in Chief Victoria Mescall was given the exclusive opportunity to interview Raisman, along with two members of other SHU student media groups.
Q: What are your feelings on the change in the leadership of USA Gymnastics in the last month?
A: In early September, the CEO, Kerry Perry, left. And we haven’t been told who is going to replace her. My biggest concern right now is making sure there is a full and independent investigation into the abuse that contributed to this disaster. The new CEO needs to be willing to understand that what happened was wrong and needs to be educated on how to make sure it doesn’t happen again. Also, Kerry Perry wasn’t willing to meet with survivors. We need someone in charge who is willing to meet with us. And I hope they involve survivors in helping pick the new CEO.
Q: A lot of people come up to you after you tell your story and share their own. How do you balance helping them when your story is so raw?
A: What I think most don’t people realize about me is that I get triggered very easily. I try make sure that I’m doing enough to speak out on behalf of not only myself and the gymnasts but other survivors. I’ve realized that not a lot of people feel like they have a voice. I’m very grateful that I am being heard, so I take that very seriously. I’m still figuring out that balance of how to be as supportive as I can, but also to make sure that I’m taking care of myself. I know that a lot of things can be triggering for survivors and it’s not talked about enough. I care so much, and I want to help but I’m learning that I need to take care of myself. If I don’t take care of myself I can’t help other people.
Q: What is your message to those survivors that do choose to speak out against their abusers?
A: I would want any survivor out there to know that it is not their fault. Unfortunately, we are living in a world where abusers so often are supported over survivors and that is so wrong and so unacceptable. If somebody doesn’t believe you, then keep going until you find someone that will. Because there are people out there that do care and do want to make a difference.
Q: How have you been enjoying your change of career path, being an activist?
A: I understand that I am one of the few people that are being listened to and I know that there are so many other people like me who are survivors that are not being heard and they’re not being believed. I take that responsibility very seriously, but I am also learning that I don’t have to talk about this all the time because it’s not healthy. I think it’s important to realize this is not going to change overnight. It’s a long process so you have to balance that by doing things that make you happy and surrounding yourself with good people who make you laugh, because I think laughing is really important.
Q: What do you want to see for the future of the #MeToo Movement?
A: I would just like to see people being more supportive of each other. When women come forward, there are still too many people who don’t believe them or think that they’re making it up. I would like to see a shift in our culture that whether or not you can relate to someone else’s story, you can still have empathy and still at least try and picture yourself in their shoes. And if you can’t understand, ask questions and get to know more. It’s important to be there for people. Remember that and be kind to one another.
After the interview with ‘Spectrum’, Raisman joined moderator Jen Lada from ESPN in the Edgerton Theatre for a formal discussion.
Raisman’s lecture included discussion about her book, ‘Fierce’, her time at the Olympics, and her experience with sexual abuse.
“It’s important to talk about especially on a college campus where assault is so prevalent,” said Raisman. “We need to keep talking about it.”