These 141 Women Took A Stand Against Sexual Abuse And Brought The ESPYs Audience To Its Feet

"We may suffer alone, but we survive together."

In what will likely go down as one of the most emotional moments in ESPYs Awards history, 141 sexual abuse survivors who spoke out against Larry Nassar joined hands in a powerful showcase of solidarity.

Everyone in the audience gave the brave "sister survivors" a standing ovation as the massive group accepted the Arthur Ashe Courage Award, presented to them by Jennifer Garner. This honor is traditionally bestowed upon those "reflect[ing] the spirit of [tennis player] Arthur Ashe, possessing strength in the face of adversity, courage in the face of peril, and the willingness to stand up for their beliefs."

Among the group of women were Aly Raisman, who has been supportive of fellow survivors and was one of the dozens who helped bring their abuser to justice, as well as Sarah Klein and Tiffany Thomas Lopez. These three spoke for those onstage at the Microsoft Theater, each describing what they have gone through and looking ahead at what needs to be done in the future. Klein spoke about how long Nassar's reign of terror had gone on and Lopez spoke about how this kind of abuse doesn't discriminate.

"The ripple effect of our actions — or inactions — can be enormous, spanning generations," Raisman said. "Perhaps the greatest tragedy of this nightmare is that it could have been avoided. Whether you act or do nothing, you are shaping the world that we live in. Impacting others. All we needed was one adult to have the integrity stand between us and Larry Nassar."

Earlier this year Nassar faced his victims in court and, in the end, was essentially sentenced to life in jail thanks to a verdict from Judge Rosemarie Aquilina. Raisman thanked Judge Aquilina and said that, had just one adult listened, believed, or acted on behalf of Nassar's accusers, many would have been spared from even meeting him, let alone saved from the physical and psychological damage he did to them.

"We may suffer alone," Raisman concluded, "but we survive together."

Cover image: ABC / Image Group LA


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