“I felt very strong,” the Olympic gold medal winner tells PEOPLE in this week’s issue. “I felt like I had so much I wanted to say.”
In a 12-minute statement that had many in the courtroom in tears, Raisman excoriated Nassar and took aim at the gymnastics organizations that she says “enabled” the former doctor to abuse hundreds of young girls and women under the guise of medical treatment. “The tables have turned,” she told the court. “We are here, we have our voices, and we aren’t going anywhere.”
Raisman, 23, tells PEOPLE that she felt “sick” after testifying against the former Team USA gymnastics doctor, who was sentenced to up to 175 years in prison for sexually abusing women and girls in his care.
For more on Raisman’s new crusade to protect other survivors of sexual abuse, pick up the latest copy of PEOPLE, on stands Friday.
While Raisman is happy that Nassar has been sentenced, she tells PEOPLE that she won’t rest until there is an independent investigation of both USA Gymnastics and the U. S. Olympic Committee, as well as Michigan State University, where Nassar worked as a sports physician from 1997 to 2016.
Raisman acknowledges that coming to terms with what happened to her has been difficult. “You never really want to say, ‘I was sexually abused,’ ” she says, “but you have to process it. You can’t push it aside forever, which is what I did for a long time. I’m still processing it and coping with it.”
One of the ways that Raisman copes with her past is to be a clear voice for change in the sport. “You lose a part of yourself when you’re abused,” she says. “I lost a part of myself, and I’m getting it back by speaking out.”
“I’m just starting to realize how strong I am,” she adds, “and I won’t be silenced.”