Aly Raisman Encourages More Conversation About Sexual Assault: The Statistics Are 'So Alarming'
Raisman's comments come amid the numerous sexual abuse allegations made by former professional gymnasts against USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar
Aly Raisman is speaking out on a subject she calls “alarming” – and pushing for change.
The gymnast, 22, spoke to PEOPLE during a Facebook live about her Playtex Sport partnership (which encourages young women to continue playing sports through their periods) that she’s hoping to make it easier for young women to have conversations about sexual assault and abuse in order to help combat the shocking number of incidents that happen daily across the country.
“We also live in a culture where if a girl is wearing a short skirt or she’s wearing a low cut blouse it’s okay for men to rape women, it’s just out of control,” she says. “I can’t tell you how many girls I know that have been sexually abused at some point in their life and it’s so sad.”
She adds, “The statistics are just alarming, it’s one in four girls are sexually abused, and those are just the girls that speak up and that [statistic] was from a couple of years ago. It’s so alarming and it’s horrible.”
According to the U.S. Department of Justice’s National Sex Offender Public Website, about 20 million out of 112 million women in the U.S. – or 18 percent – have been raped during their lifetime.
Raisman’s comments come amid the mounting sexual abuse allegations made by former top gymnasts against USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar.
Late last month, former club gymnast Rachael Denhollander joined the countless women speaking out, telling PEOPLE that Nassar allegedly molested her by inserting his fingers into her vagina and rectum for 30 minutes at a time in 2000 while her mother was in the room.
“He would position himself in between my mom and I, so I could not see where his hands were,” Denhollander said. “That was the dynamic that kept me quiet because I didn’t realize she couldn’t see. The idea that someone could be sexually assaulting me for 30 minutes at a time while holding a conversation with my mother, nobody thinks that’s what assault looks like.”
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Denhollander has filed a lawsuit against Nassar for the abuse. Nassar is currently in federal custody on separate child pornography charges. He has pleaded not guilty and denies any wrongdoing. In a statement to PEOPLE, USAG previously said they were unaware of Nassar’s years of alleged abuse prior to the summer of 2015 when he left the organization.
Raisman also spoke out about the negative effects of social media on girls who feel the pressure to live up to the filtered photos they see on their feeds.
“We all compare ourselves to other people and I think it’s really sad that these younger girls are taught now that if you’re beautiful, you take a good selfie, you’re gonna be more successful than someone that’s hardworking, independent and intelligent,” she said. “I think it’s really awful.”