In a moving image that will come to define a key moment in the #MeToo era, 141 women survivors of sexual abuse stood united on stage to accept an award for their courage and bravery.
The hundreds of women who were sexually assaulted by former USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar, were given the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the 2018 ESPY (Excellence in Sports Performance Yearly) Awards in Los Angeles on Wednesday night. They were introduced to the stage by actress Jennifer Garner, who described them as 'an army that has come here tonight to be heard', and as they all gathered on stage to a resounding two-minute standing ovation, many of the crowd were spotted holding back tears.
Sarah Klein, who was the first known gymnast to be abused by the disgraced doctor, was joined by gymnast Aly Raisman and former softball player Tiffany Thomas Lopez at the front of the stage to accept the award.
In her speech Klein said: 'Make no mistake, we are here on this stage to present an image for the world to see, a portrait of survival, a new vision of courage.
'Telling our stories of abuse over and over and over again in graphic detail is not easy. We’re sacrificing privacy, we’re being judged and scrutinized, and it’s grueling and it’s painful but it is time. We must start caring about children’s safety more than we care about adults’ reputations.'
Watch the full speech by Sarah Klein, Tiffany Thomas Lopez and Aly Raisman below:
These women are undoubtedly deserving winners of the historic Arthur Ashe award, which is given to those who show 'strength in the face of adversity, courage in the face of peril and the willingness to stand up for their beliefs', and their being honored in such a way will undoubtedly have a resounding effect on onlookers everywhere.
More than 200 women gave impact statements on Nassar's abuse at his two hearings earlier this year and he was eventually sentenced to a totally 300 years in jail for his crimes. When Raisman took a moment to address the ESPY audience, she spoke directly to Judge Rosemarie Aquilina, who sentenced Nassar in January and was sitting in the audience.
She said: 'You helped us rediscover the power that we possess. If just one adult had listened, believed, and acted, the people standing before you on this stage would have never met him. To all the survivors out there, don't let anyone rewrite your story. the truth does matter, you matter, and you are not alone.'
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