A former member of the USA junior national gymnastics team is showing her support for victims of rape and sexually abuse in the wake of the Larry Nassar sentencing.
Taking to Twitter, two-time All-American Katelyn Ohashi, 20, posted a video of her on stage performing a poignant poem entitled Sexual Assault, which deals with rape and sexual assault.
She has also posted the poem in full on her blog, and although she has never been raped or abused, revealed that she felt inspired to pen the powerful words as an act of solidarity for all women who have been sexually assaulted and to raise awareness.
Powerful: Former USA junior national gymnastics team member Katelyn Ohashi, 20, has penned a poignant poem about sexual assault in the wake of Larry Nassar’s sentencing
Inspired: Ohashi who is now a college student at UCLA, has never been raped or abused but felt inspired to show solidarity for all victims of sexual violence
Speaking about what inspired her words, the former junior national champion, and current UCLA team member, wrote: ‘No one should feel ashamed about being sexually assaulted because if I have learned one thing, it is that at the end of the day what a person does to you has nothing to do with you and everything to do with them.’
‘We will teach the world to stop putting a stigma around sexual assault victims and show everyone that they will never get taken advantage of again where it actually counts,’ she added.
In the poem, written in the first person, Ohashi explores the different emotions victims of rape go through, and how society often blames the victim for not doing enough to prevent the assault from happening.
She wrote: ‘Maybe it was my fault and I’m the one to blame,
‘After all I am the one with the ripped clothes left bloody and bruised, feeling ashamed.’
However, as the poem progresses, Ohashi details the last effects of sexual assault, from pregnancy to contracting an std, and also shares statistics about many women take their own lives in the wake of an attack.
She concludes by saying women are ‘stronger than you now and fighting harder’, and that society is finally being forced to look at the way women are treated.
This is not the first time Ohashi has added her voice to the throngs of athletes denouncing USA Gymnastics’ handling of the Larry Nassar scandal.
She took to Instagram on to take a shot at the organization after more than 200 women came forward to read victim impact statements at the sentencing hearing for disgraced doctor Larry Nassar – who was sentenced to 175 years in jail on Wednesday afternoon.
‘College gymnastics is the reward we receive after years of abuse. it’s the time of discovery, healing, learning, growing, and having the time of our lives.’
Making it clear: The current UCLA gymnast has also suggested she is much happier since leaving the elite level of the sport
Hitting the mark: The 20-year-old was a four-time member of the junior national team and is a two-time All-American and former junior national champion
Final days: Larry Nassar, who plead guilty to sexually abusing hundreds of female athletes, was sentenced to 175 years in jail
The post also included a pair of photos of Katelyn smiling away in a glittering blue leotard as she steps on to the mats.
Katelyn has also previously talked about the importance of supporting the women who are bravely telling their stories in an interview with the Daily Bruin.
‘It’s supporting everyone that has come forward, and showing them that we are with them,’ she said.
‘We are here to support them, and encourage them to share their story, and help any of those that are dealing with the same issue.’
The disgraced doctor pleaded guilty to molesting female gymnasts, including superstar Olympians McKayla Maroney, Gabby Douglas, Jordyn Wieber and Simone Biles.
On Wednesday afternoon, he was sentenced to 175 years in jail by Judge Rosemarie Aquilinia, who eviscerated the doctor in front of the many of his 150 victims who stood up in court to detail the abuse the suffered at his hands.
‘Sir, you knew you had a problem. That’s clear to me. You knew you had a problem from a very young age. You could have taken yourself away from temptation and you did not. Worse yet, there isn’t a survivor that didn’t come in and say how world-renowned you were.
‘You can’t give them back their innocence, their youth. You can’t give a father back his life.’
Fighter: Katelyn has previously spoken out in support of the more than 200 women who have come forward with their tales of abuse
Ups and downs: Katelyn also blasted USA Gymnastics last summer in an eye-opening blog post
However, while Nassar’s horrific sexual violations of young girls have been the focal point of the attention being given to the failings of USA Gymnastics, it is likely just one of the abuses that Katelyn was referring to in her post.
The athlete, who was a four-time member of USA Gymnastics’ junior national team, made headlines last summer after sharing a blog post detailing her experiences with body-shaming at the hands of coaches at the elite level of the sport.
She shared a number of distressing diary entries from her time on the junior national team and even claimed that she was ‘asked to sign a contract that would basically prohibit me from training if I did not lose weight.’
She added: ‘If I “looked” bigger on a given day, I had to run and condition with heavy sweats until it seemed like I was “ready” to start practice.’
In the journal entries, she also claimed to having been kicked out of practice multiple times for being too heavy.
Though she didn’t name names, it was clear that the instances described happened while she was training under Valeri Liukin – the current head coach of the Women’s National Team – who had previously been accused of forcing gymnasts to weigh themselves multiple times over singular training sessions.
In response to Katelyn’s blog, her former teammate Sarah DeMeo made her own accusation on Twitter, revealing that Valeri had forced them to complete beam routines with weight belts attached to their waists.
Survived: In the post she included entries from her diary from when she was training for the national team, saying she was frequently shamed for being too ‘heavy’
Working up: She also claimed she ‘was asked to sign a contract that would basically prohibit me from training if I did not lose weight’
Another hit: Katelyn’s blog may have been in reference to the coaching style of coach Valeri Liukin (pictured in 2008 with daughter Nastia)
Indeed, although the Nassar trial came to an end on Wednesday with the doctor’s first accuser Rachael Denhollander being the last of the many victims to face her abuser, trouble appears to be just beginning for USA Gymnastics.
During her own impassioned statement in court on Tuesday, former US national champion Mattie Larson revealed that a USA Gymnastics representative was in the room while she was assaulted by Nassar.
She specifically called out coaches Martha and Bela Karolyi along with Valeri for allegedly fostering an atmosphere that allowed Nassar to escalate his behavior.
Despite having just won the title of national champion, Mattie stepped away from gymnastics in 2010. She revealed in court that this happened after she attempted to give herself a concussion by purposely falling on the bathroom floor in order to avoid national training camp.
She said her abuse at the camp later led her into an ‘intense and destructive eating disorder for six years.’
Olympic gold medalist Shawn Johnson also came out this week with a video slamming USA Gymnastics for ‘failing to protect its athletes’ and says if she had a daughter right now, she wouldn’t let her join the sport.
She addressed her fellow athletes in the video, calling them ‘heroes’ and adding: ‘I love you.’
In support: In a video, Olympic champion Shawn said that USA Gymnastics has ‘failed their athletes so terribly’
Her truth: Aly Raisman has been a vocal critic of USA Gymnastics and how it handled the Nassar scandal, blasting them in her own victim impact statement
‘You have experienced some of the worst evil in the world and to know you guys have a voice and you’re standing up for so many people just know you are my heroes,’ she said through tears.
On Monday, three of USA Gymnastics’ top-ranking board members stepped down on in the wake of the sexual abuse scandal, including the board’s chairman Paul Parilla, vice chairman Jay Binder and treasurer Bitsy Kelley.
AT&T also announced it would be removing USA Gymnastics as a sponsor over its handling of the scandal.
Olympic champion Aly Raisman has been another particularly vocal opponent to the organization’s attitude and actions when it came to Larry Nassar. She described USA Gymnastics in her own victim impact statement as ‘rotting from the inside.”
‘Even now, after all that has happened, USA Gymnastics has the nerve to say the very same things it has said all along. Can’t you see how disrespectful that is? Can’t you see how much that hurts?’ she said.
‘We need an independent investigation of exactly what happened, what went wrong, and how it can be avoided for the future. Only then can we know what changes are needed.’
Former USA Gymnastics team member Katelyn Ohashi’s poignant poem about sexual assault
The former nation gymnastics team member, 20, performed the poem ‘Sexual Assault, in the wake of pedophile Larry Nassar’s 175 year sentencing
Unconscious, awake, a stranger or friend.
These are the stories we must defend.
Far too often we make excuses for these offenders,
But any time you force sexual activity you are a contender.
Was it what I wore? Was I asking for this attention?
They’ll think I’m a whore and there was no dissension.
I laid there stripped of my dignity,
Questioning if it was wrong to speak malignity.
Maybe it was my fault and I’m the one to blame,
After all I am the one with the ripped clothes left bloody and bruised, feeling ashamed.
But how many girls have you done this to and thought it all the same?
I wanted and told you to stop after an innocent goodnight kiss,
But there you ended on top, too weak to fight back all I could do was submiss.
You moved my hand, I removed my hand.
Don’t you understand, what don’t you understand?
This is more than i can withstand.
What if I didn’t even know you and I was walking down the street.
You pushed me down and dragged me somewhere discrete.
Did your actions help make YOU feel complete?
Did I not scream NO loud enough?
People will think this is all a bluff.
Because there are sick people out there that make up this is stuff.
To take away someone’s life and put them in handcuffs.
But you took mine away, and it didn’t seem tough.
It only took you a few moments for you to take everything you stole,
But believe me your everlasting presence has taken much more than just its physical toll.
This weight that I carry as a burden is weighing me below.
I felt worthless and useless, you took my dignity and beat it senseless, you selfish….
There are no words to describe people like you.
This only depicts half of what people go through…
About one in six females are raped throughout their life time,
And out of that about 33% of these women report contemplating suicide while 13% actually do.
This leaves a deeper more permanent mark than any fucking tattoo.
Talk about permanent, let’s talk about pregnancy.
What a constant reminder to live with endlessly.
And that’s not even where it ends because now you gave me an std,
The results came back and read, hepatitis b.
And let’s talk about men that get raped because I know one that has been.
But with a man what excuses will our society begin?
Isn’t he supposed to be tough?
He must be into that stuff…
We’re finally hearing out women isn’t that enough?
Listen to me when I say we have the right to say no without a reason.
A no does not give you the right to continue, that’s treason.
We’re stronger than you now and fighting harder,
There will be change this is just the starter.
At what point will you realize it isn’t yours to take?
Because clearly it didn’t matter that it was our life that was at stake.