LOS ANGELES (AFP) – Hundreds of survivors of sexual abuse by former USA Gymnastics team coach Larry Nassar received the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the 2018 ESPYs on Wednesday.
More than 140 of the women joined hands on stage in a moving finale to the awards show that honors top athletes and sporting performances of the previous year.
Actress Jennifer Garner presented the award, saying that while the story of the “sister survivors” was difficult, it was one that the world “has to hear”.
Sarah Klein, who identified herself as the first to be abused by Nassar, said that she and others on the stage “represent hundreds more who are not here tonight.
“Make no mistake,” she said. “We are here on this stage … a portrait of survival.”
The courage award is given annually to someone who embodies the spirit of tennis great and human rights activist Arthur Ashe.
Nassar was accused of sexual assault under the guise of treatment by more than 265 women, many of them former US Olympians.
He was sentenced in January to spend his life behind bars.
“If just one adult had listened, believed and acted, the people standing before you on this stage would have never met him,” Olympic gold medalist Aly Raisman said. “Too often abusers and enablers perpetuate suffering by making survivors believe that their truth doesn’t matter.
“To all the survivors out there: don’t let anyone rewrite your story. Your truth does matter.”