The Power of 140 Women

splitshire-9614As a follow up from my post last week, if you didn’t see it you can read it here, I am left speechless by the change I see in the world around me. From the drastic differences in presidencies I have grown up under to the prevalence of strength and power I have seen in the world around me.

And that change seems to be only beginning. This week I tuned into a different set of speeches that are somehow both heartbreaking and empowering at once.

Have you heard the name Larry Nassar yet? Even if you haven’t, I can almost guarantee you have heard of the girls he’s connected to. To name a few: Aly Raisman, Simone Biles, Jamie Dantzscher, and far too many others.

Recently, I am one of countless people who have been tuning in while these stories unfold. These are stories of innocence lost, homes broken, and lives changed— a few lost in the process. All because of one man’s actions. Though public allegations against him only began in September of 2016, Nassar has been accused of sexual abuse by an astounding 140 women over the last two decades.

First of all, there should never be a situation in which 100+ women need to come together against such a traumatic experience they all share in order to find a way to move on with their lives. This should have never happened. Whether the issue is systemic, authoritative, internal, or something else, it needs to be fixed.

Second of all, in researching the trial, I found myself listening to testament video after testament video, telling myself “just one more.” But each and every one was captivating, both in the way I could hear how deep the trauma ran in every girl to the blatant honesty behind the impact of what it means to be a victim.annie-spratt-298421.jpg

Take this line from Aly Raisman’s speech: “If we are to believe in change, we must first understand the problem and everything that contributed to it. Now is not the time for false reassurances.”

She and several others spoke of the lack of control they felt, the loss of their own realities when their accusations were passed off as mistakes, experiences passed off as incredible.

I can’t explain how much it means to me to see these women stand up and speak out together about what they believe they deserve.

This is a whole new era of truth.

If I’m being honest, the gymnastics was one of the only reasons I tuned into the 2012 Olympics; I mean I can’t be the only one who was drawn in by the Fierce Five. I’ve played a lot of sports throughout my lifetime, but it was amazing to watch those five girls do things that I could never even dream of. I remember thinking of how powerful I believed them to be back then.

Only in the last few days of watching three of those five girls come forward in the largest sexual abuse case in U.S. sports, have I begun to understand the real power they hold.

Like I said, I am watching the world change; so quickly that it’s hard to keep up. Yet there is one thing that I could watch every day and never get tired— women standing up, speaking out, and having their voices heard. It can be someone like Oprah, a young woman like Aly Raisman, and even a high school student who understands that there are certain boundaries that should not be crossed. These people are finding their voices.

And as far as I can see, the noise will only get louder from here on out.

ryan-riggins-216051Though it breaks my heart that so many people, men included, have experienced their own violations of self, I am excited to see the power they gain and feel deserving of as time goes on.

If you are ever given less than you deserve, treated incorrectly, or abused in any way, you are allowed to speak up.

You deserve to be heard.

You deserve to be in control.

I understand that our world has plenty of issues, too many to fix at once, and far too many to comprehend in my own ignorance. There are a lot of things I don’t know at nineteen years old. But I know this: I do believe in change.

Do you?

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