Larry Nassar Claims Listening to Victim Impact Statements Is 'Mentally' Too Hard


Sometimes the news isn’t as straightforward as it’s made to seem. Juliette Virzi, The Mighty’s associate mental heath editor, explains what to keep in mind if you see this topic or similar stories in your newsfeed. This is The Mighty Takeaway. 

Editor’s Note: If you’ve experienced sexual abuse or assault, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 1-800-656-4673.

On Thursday, Larry Nassar, former USA Gymnastics doctor accused of sexually abusing over 140 girls and women, wrote a six-page letter to Judge Rosemarie Aquilina, stating he couldn’t “mentally” handle four days of listening to victim-impact statements. He also accused Aquilina of turning the proceeding into a “media circus” to put herself in the spotlight.

Aquilina rebuked Nassar, referring to the letter in court as “mumbo jumbo.”

You may find it harsh that you are here, listening, but nothing is as harsh as what your victims endured for thousands of hours at your hands collectively. You spent thousands of hours perpetrating criminal sexual conduct on minors. Spending four or five days listening to them is significantly minor considering the hours of pleasure you’ve had at their expense and ruining their lives. None of this should come as a surprise to you.

Twitter users were quick to criticize Nassar’s letter.

As part of his plea bargain, victim impact statements were authorized to be read aloud during the sentencing. “I didn’t want even one victim to lose their voice,” Aquilina said. Among 140 plus victims were Olympic gymnasts Simone Biles and McKayla Maroney.

“Dr. Nassar was not a doctor. He in fact is, was and forever shall be a child molester, and a monster of a human being,” Maroney wrote in a statement, read by a prosecutor during the proceedings. “He abused my trust, he abused my body and he left scars on my psyche that may never go away.”

If news of the Larry Nassar court proceedings is hard for you, know you aren’t alone. Here are some things we want you to remember in the wake of sexual assault news like this.

1. It’s OK to Take a Step Back From the News

It’s OK to unplug for a while to protect your mental health. If it makes you anxious to not know what is going on news-wise, enlist the help of a friend to keep you updated on non-sexual assault related news. Whatever you choose to do, don’t feel the pressure to “stay informed” if the news causes you psychological stress.

2. You Don’t Have to Share Your Story

As more and more survivors step forward in this case to share their experience of sexual abuse, it can encourage people to open up about their own experiences. If you do choose to open up, that’s OK. If you don’t feel ready to share or don’t want to, you have the power to make that decision. Do what feels best for you, and no matter what, know that you, your story and your feelings are important and valid.

According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), approximately two out of every three sexual assaults go unreported. There are a number of reasons why people decide not to report — from fear of testifying or concerns their attacker might retaliate — all valid concerns considering that out of every 1,000 rapes only six perpetrators will go to jail.

When sexual assault cases are in the spotlight, people are often quick to weigh in with their “take” on social media. You don’t have to listen to these voices. Nor do you need to read comments from the abuser, or their defenders, about the “impact” any allegations against them may have on their health or career. If hurtful or offensive commentary is clogging your newsfeed, you can block, unfriend, unfollow or mute any of those voices. You don’t owe anyone an explanation.

3. You’re Not Alone

If news like this is triggering for you, please know you aren’t alone. If you are struggling with past sexual trauma and need to talk to someone right now, call the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 800.656.HOPE (4673) to be connected with a trained staff member from a sexual assault service provider in your area. To learn more about sexual assault prevention and access resources, visit Rainn.org.

If you or a loved one is affected by sexual abuse or assault and need help, call the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 1-800-656-4673 to be connected with a trained staff member from a sexual assault service provider in your area.

Screenshots via NBC News Twitter 


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