By Erin Davis, 23News Reporter

The Department of Student Activities hosted Olympic gold medalist Aly Raisman at Missouri Theatre on Wednesday, April 18. Before Raisman spoke, she sat down with 23News to answer a few questions. Here is what she had to say.

MUTV: You are a nationally-recognized gymnast. Do your routines reflect your life and personality?

Raisman: I would say when I am competing in gymnastics or when I’m practicing, I would say that your personality would probably show the most in your floor routine. Other than that, maybe a little bit in your beam routine, but gymnastics is also such a difficult sport. And if you make a mistake, or you know you’re really tired or something, it can get dangerous because you’re flipping and it’s very very difficult. It’s not as easy as it looks. I would say you’re very focused and very serious so I think that my determination and my hardworking personality kind of shows more there. I’d actually say I’m more lighthearted and more goofy when I’m not in the gym. I’m very serious when I’m in the gym.

 

MUTV: The experience of being a survivor of sexual abuse or misconduct is different for every person. That being said, based on your experiences, what advice would you give to people who have gone through this, but maybe too scared to come forward?

Raisman: For anyone that has had any experience with sexual abuse, sexual assault, harassment or any kind of abuse I would first just start off by saying how sorry I am and how awful of a problem it is. Unfortunately, there are so many people out there that can relate because it’s such a common problem. One time being abused is too many. One person being abused is too many. I would say the best advice I could give you is to know that you deserve to feel heard, you deserve to feel safe and I believe you. There’s a whole army of survivors that believe you that are going to fight for change. I would say I know that it’s never easy speaking up about it, but I would say that it’s okay to ask for help. In fact, I encourage you to and it’s okay to not be okay. No one can tell you how to cope or how to deal with the situation. Everyone’s experience is different, everyone copes differently. My best advice would be to talk about it with someone that you trust because it’s very hard to keep it bottled up inside, but just to know that there are so many people out there that are supportive. And if you don’t feel ready to come forward yet, that’s okay because, like I said, everyone copes differently. And just try to focus on how strong you are and what you went through is never ever your fault. It’s the abuser’s fault, it’s never ever the survivor’s fault, so just know that I stand with you and there are so many other people that are supportive too.

What is your goal in speaking tonight?

Raisman: My goal in speaking tonight would be to encourage the audience to support one another and to help it so sexual abuse is not common at all. Unfortunately, it’s such a big problem everywhere, it’s not just in the gymnastics world, it’s not just in Hollywood, it’s everywhere. It’s a really really big problem on college campuses. The statistics show there are probably going to be some survivors in the audience, often times actually basically every single time after I finish speaking, there’s survivors that come to me after and share their stories so I would say just to tell them that they deserve to be heard. And also encourage the audience that whether or not you are a survivor of abuse it is important that you show support and if you’re at a party or wherever you are if you see something that’s not right to report it and to put a stop to it because it’s never ever okay. We have to create an environment where students feel more comfortable talking about abuse because it’s very, very common on campus and I hope that the colleges around the country do a better job in handling it correctly. There’s been many times I’ve heard from many people colleges don’t handle abuse seriously enough.

Edited by Isabel Lohman | iplp54@mail.missouri.edu

Tags: , ,