MI--SNAP cheers the courageous survivor who confronted her abuser in court
For immediate release Wednesday, January 18, 2018
SNAP, the Survivors Network, applauds Kyle Stephens for speaking out publicly about her abuse at the hands of former USA Gymnastics doctor, Larry Nassar. At a sentencing hearing for Nassar on January 16 in Lansing, Michigan, Kyle told the court the repeated sexual assaults by the doctor took a terrible toll on her personally. The abuse began when she was only six years old and continued into early adolescence.
Kyle also told the court that she was seriously traumatized by her parents’ refusal to believe her when she told them that family friend Nassar was sexually molesting her. This denial of her outcry changed Kyle’s relationship with her family. Ultimately, she believes it played a role in her father’s 2016 suicide.
When her parents' did not support her, Kyle had to resort to therapy to deal with the crippling pressure to doubt and suppress her memories.
After all Kyle has been through, it took great courage for her to speak out publicly and to confront her abuser in court. We here at SNAP stood beside Kyle in spirit and cheered when we heard she told Nassar in court, “I have been coming for you for a long time.” Her bravery will give strength to other survivors of childhood sexual abuse, especially those who, like Kyle, were not believed and supported by their families when they spoke out.
SNAP also believes that this story illustrates again how very much the #MeToo and the #ChurchToo movements are needed. In far too many cases, when survivors of childhood and adolescent sexual abuse blow the whistle on their abuser, they are accused of lying. Unfortunately, when their abuser is an authority figure, a religious leader, a medical professional, etc., he or she all to often receives the benefit of the doubt.
Kyle’s testimony should also serve as a reminder for victims not to be discouraged by disbelief and to persist in their outcry, as she did.
“I have been coming for you for a long time,” she told Nassar, who hid his eyes beneath his hand through the testimony. “I’ve told counselors your name in hopes they would report you. I’ve told your name to Child Protective Services twice. I gave a testament to get your medical license revoked. You were first arrested on my charges. And now as the only non-medical victim to come forward, I testify to let the world know you are a repulsive liar.”
We hope these words will be heard far and wide, as they deserve to be heard.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings. SNAP was founded in 1988 and has more than 25,000 members. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)
Melanie Jula Sakoda (925-708-6175, email@example.com), Joelle Casteix (949-322-7434, firstname.lastname@example.org), or Barbara Dorris of St. Louis, SNAP Executive Director (314-503-0003, bdorris@SNAPnetwork.org)