#SurvivorStories: How I Learned the Meaning of Courage

 

It was a cold morning on January 16th 2018, when I entered a Michigan courtroom. I didn’t know what to expect. There was TV cameras, photographers, and reporters that filled up every empty space lining the walls. I was so scared but so numb that I did not realize that my word would be broadcasted across the United States and the world. I was focused on one thing... justice.

I was the 11th woman to give an impact statement against Larry Nassar. We were allowed to have a family member/friend come to the podium to help give support during the impact statement. My mom was sitting with me and I wavered until the very last moment when my name was called. I motioned for my mom to stay seated. I wanted Larry to just see me, see that I survived, see that I became a strong woman, see that I was helping him never see the light of day again. The surroundings became a blur as I focused on the words I was saying to a man that abused me for four years. As frightening as it sounds now, it felt like it was just he and I in the room, but he was shackled and could no longer hurt me.

After I was done speaking, the amazing judge Aquilina called for a recess. I received hugs from my mom and other survivors, who would soon become my sister survivors, a lifeline that I still count on to this day. My mom and I left the courtroom and headed to a designated room just for survivors and support people. Andrea Munford, the lead investigator on the case, was in the stairwell and she said to me that after I spoke she wanted to stand up and yell ‘boom, mic drop.’ I laughed, and at that point started to realize that my words might have impacted others.

The preceding days and weeks I received messages and emails from complete strangers, friends, and others who I had fallen out of touch with years ago. They called me courageous, an inspiration and a hero, but I never felt like any of those things.  The sister survivors were then honored with the Foundation for Global Sports Development’s Global Sports Humanitarian award, the ESPN Arthur Ashe Courage Award, and the Glamour magazine Women of the Year Award.

It is still difficult for me to say my actions on January 16th were courageous, but that’s what courage is: Strength in the face of pain. 

- Dani Moore