When do survivors of sexual abuse “heal”? In their own time, over the course of many years, and sometimes, never fully. Events, locations, smells, or people can trigger emotions pushed down until they are nearly forgotten. Some are able to confront their experience head on. Others cope by abusing a vice, like drugs or alcohol, and trying to forget. It is our jobs, as attorneys, to confront these issues head on and explain to the defense why the pain continues, and why our clients may be confronting ghosts from their past – as many as 30 , 40 years or more after the events occurred.
The Simone Biles story, recently in the news, is an important lesson on this point. Larry Nassar, now a household name for more nefarious reasons, molested Simone when she was a child and a teenager, all under the guise of helping her train for her Olympic dream at the USA Gymnastics training facility. As the “Greatest of All Time” prepared for Tokyo 2020, she made it clear that she was concerned about having to return to the facility where she was molested. USAG shut the training facility down a few days later. She also stated publicly in April that she was returning to the 2020 Olympics, not for another gold medal but to be a voice for change within the sport to prevent monsters like Nassar from gaining another foothold. Perhaps the facility was the trigger. Perhaps, it was the Olympic atmosphere. Perhaps we will never know, because Simone Biles has no obligation to the organization that failed her and so many other gymnasts by protecting the predator.
Perhaps, her withdrawing from the Olympics will spark a greater conversation about the effect of abuse on the survivor, the importance of preventing future misconduct by putting predators in jail, and the importance of holding the organizations that protect abusers accountable to prevent future stars, famous or not, from fading.
If you or your loved one is a survivor of sexual abuse, contact our team at Murphy & Landon at 302-472-8100 for a complimentary consultation.