The Never-ending Abuse Behind USA Women’s Gymnastics

Over the past five years, hundreds of victims/survivors have come forward with claims of abuse against the USA Gymnastics Organization (USAG) and their employees. Elite sports seem to subject their athletes to mental and physical abuse by their coaches, governing bodies, and medical team members. Some of the most elite members of USAG were not only subject to mental and physical abuse but sexual abuse from the team doctor Larry Nassar. These gymnasts have officially provided their statements in front of the US senate and has been broadcasted to the rest of the world. 

Trailer for “Athlete A”, Netflix Documentary detailing this specific case (Rotten Tomatoes Youtube)

Initial claims of sexual abuse against the team doctor were brought to the attention of USAG team coaches and the president in May of 2015. This organization delayed the publication and the official charges of these claims for almost two years. This was accomplished by supressing young women and children, leaving them powerless under the control of their abusers and adults who were aware of their abuse.

Studies have shown, that sexual and emotional abuse persists in sport because athletes train, compete and practice as subordinates. Specific to the culture of elite gymnastics, athletes are accustomed to being touched or handled by coaching through “spotting” to correct techniques and master skills. They often seek treatments for injuries that tend to be intimate and physically invasive. These young women believed their abusers would prevent them from achieving their goals of becoming Olympians if exploited, highlighting the abuse of power these employees demonstrated. This further displays the need to ensure young women are placed in environments that allow them to be protected as well as feel safe. Not only were these gymnasts abused, but they were also in a place where they had nobody to support them in bringing justice to their abuser.


Featured image: Simone Biles Testifying in front of US senate against Larry Nassar and USAG (Source: Los Angeles Times) 

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