What All Parents Must Learn From the U.S. Gymnastics Team Doctor Sex Abuse Sentencing

sex abuse

Earlier this week former U.S Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar is in the process of being sentenced after pleading guilty to seven counts of criminal sexual assault in Ingham County in Michigan. As part of the sentencing process, he has to listen to victim statements from just SOME of his victims, and as of now, CNN reports that they expect over 101 young women to testify. In addition, he has already been sentenced to 60 years for possession of child pornography and is still awaiting sentencing for an additional three counts of first degree criminal sexual conduct with children under 16.)

The man is a monster. A monster who sexually abused the young girls who were his patients, who were told to trust him. Girls including, by their recent announcements, the famous Olympic gymnasts Simone Biles, Aly Raisman, McKayla Moroney, and Gabby Douglas.

He is EVERY parent’s worst nightmare.

Think about it – all these accomplished, hard-working, successful young women – and they didn’t tell. That’s how good this man was at abusing power. I shudder to think of how such evil could walk around with skin on.

Two of the most popular articles on this website are a pediatrician’s tips about how to prevent your child from being sexually abused and another by a victim of child sex abuse on how even good parents miss the signs of sex abuse in their children.

Parents would be wise to take a point away from each of these articles about sex abuse that proved true with the Larry Nassar case.

From the article by Dr. Tobi Adeyeye Amosun on how to prevent sexual abuse, the point to note is that the location of the sex abuse incident is usually one that is familiar to the victim and the perpetrator will almost always be someone the parent and victim already know. In the U.S. Gymnastics case, Simone Biles noted that “it breaks my heart that I will have to continually return to the same training facility where I was abused,” in order to achieve her goal of making the 2020 Olympic team. She was abused somewhere she felt safe, by someone she was supposed to trust. Someone and somewhere her parents surely thought she was safe with and at.

From the article by Tonya GJ Prince, on how even good parents miss the signs of sexual abuse, she notes that in her case, her parents never asked the right questions when she was away from them but with people they trusted. She said her parents asked her questions like “Did you behave?”  “Did you listen?”  “Were you a good girl?” in front of her abuser, whom she was terrified of. She advises parents to ask questions of their kids AWAY from the adult or adults whose care they had been in, and ask questions less about their behavior and more about their feelings, such as:

How did you spend your time?  

What was your favorite part?

What was the least favorite part?

Did you feel safe?  

Was there anything else that you wanted to share?
Let me stress that I am in no way saying any of the gymnast’s parents did anything wrong. I read testimony from two of the young gymnasts that said their mothers were even in the exam room when they were abused – this man was THAT deceptive. (Shudder again.) But, I am asking us to put ourselves in their shoes for a minute, imagine their pain, and think about what they wish they had done differently. I am guessing asking more questions might be on that list. Moms and Dads, let us not get so busy shuttling our kids to all their many practices and rehearsals that we fail to probe our kids about what really goes on when they aren’t with us.
The details of the hundreds of assaults perpetrated by Nassar are heart-rending and very difficult to read. But as a parent, I am glad I read a few. They were…motivational to be vigilant for my kids, to say the least.God forbid any of our children has a story to tell like these amazing, brave young women do.Parents, put your guards UP. Talk to your kids about sex abuse so that they KNOW when someone they trust tries to do something you;ve said is not okay, they can come to you IMMEDIATELY. For more on how to talk to your children about sex abuse BEFORE it occurs, check out the fantastic tips here: A Sexual Abuse Fire Drill.

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Jenny Rapson
Jenny Rapson is a follower of Christ, a wife and mom of three from Ohio and a freelance writer and editor. You can find her at her blog, Mommin' It Up, or follow her on Twitter.