McKayla Maroney, Olympic gymnast gold medalist, has come forward with details about sexual abuse at the hands of her USA Gymnastics doctor. She states the abuse started at age 13 and continued until she left the sport last year—spanning eight years and a range of countries, states and cities.
Her recent accusations are in addition to those of over 125 other women who claim the same doctor sexually assaulted them while calling it “treatment.” There are also 22 counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct against him. He is currently serving prison time for child pornography possession as the numerous sexual assault charges and civil suits move forward.
The #MeToo movement
Maroney cites the recent social media #MeToo movement, where people shared the hashtag on their social channels to show their sexual harassment and abuse experiences, as giving her strength to come forward about her own experiences. The worldwide movement encouraged numerous other women and men to share their own stories of abuse, both as children and adults, and called for awareness to end sexual abuse for good.
Coming forward about sexual abuse is a difficult decision filled with emotions and vulnerability. You are not alone in the cruel cycle of child and adult sexual abuse and there are anonymous or non-anonymous actions that can be taken. You can help yourself and other silent victims by speaking out and taking legal action. Filing claims against abusers can bring awareness of their crimes, consequences for their actions and encouragement for others who may have suffered to come forward as well.
This abuse is happening everywhere—Hollywood, sports, schools, work and even with trusted health care providers. Together we can help stop the cycle of sexual abuse and protect other potential victims.