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‘An open wound that won’t heal’: Aly Raisman discusses new special on survivors and her own path to healing after testifying in front of Congress

United States Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman, right, testifies before a hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee in Washington on Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2021, to review the Larry Nassar sexual abuse investigation.Graeme Jennings/NYT

Olympic gold medalist Aly Raisman talked about her new Lifetime special documenting survivors of sexual assault and her own healing in an interview with The Daily Show’s Trevor Noah Monday night.

In Aly Raisman: Darkness to Light, the Needham native talks to other survivors of infamous sexual assault cases about their healing process.

Raisman, a highly decorated Olympian who was one of the leaders of the 2012 and 2016 women’s gymnastics teams, became a survivors’ advocate and vocal critic of USA Gymnastics after being assaulted by Larry Nassar, a former team doctor. Nassar sexually abused dozens of women and girls under his care, and ultimately received prison sentences of 60 years for child pornography and up to 175 years for sexual misconduct.

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Thinking about her own trauma, Raisman said, “sometimes it feels like an open wound that won’t heal.”

She said she had to deal with her own abuse personally and publicly at the same time, “because everything happened so fast.”

But the experience also motivated her to action, she said. At the time the allegations became public, she told Noah that she thought, “I can’t sit back and watch these organizations do nothing.”

Raisman discussed how although it was painful, it was important that the case against Nassar played out publicly because, “the organizations and people in positions of power, you know, continue to cover it up, gaslight us, and treat us so horribly.”

The Daily Show appearance came after Raisman and several other high profile gymnasts testified in front of Congress last week and blasted the FBI for mishandling the Nassar case.

Before her interview with Noah, she said she “was having a little bit of a tougher day,” because of last week’s testimony. “I was starting to be a little hard on myself,” she said.

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“I thought to myself, if Simone [Biles] was calling me right now, I would be nicer to her than I am being to myself,” she said, which helped.

Through her work on the documentary, Raisman noted that she has learned a lot about other survivors’ trauma, and her own.

“Abuse is not just something you suffer in the moment, it can unfortunately carry on with you a very long time,” she said. “And the way a survivor heals is linked to how their abuse is handled.”

Raisman acknowledged that her abuser is now in jail, but that isn’t true for many of the survivors she’s met, who never felt safe going to law enforcement about what they endured.

Though her version of justice always involved accountability, she has thought about that definition much more since meeting one survivor who told her, “justice meant that it never happened.”

Raisman said she is so grateful for the support she has received, and all the survivors who spent time talking to her for the documentary.

“I know that so many survivors don’t have the platform that I have, and I take that very seriously,” she said.

Aly Raisman: Darkness to Light airs on Lifetime Sept. 24.


Colleen Cronin can be reached at colleen.cronin@globe.com.