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Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman is speaking out about the dangers of victim-shaming in a recent op-ed she wrote for Cosmopolitan.
The 24-year-old Needham native discussed how judging others based on what they wear or their body type is perpetuating harmful societal pressures, and even enables sexual abuse.
“It makes me sad when I hear women criticized for wearing clothing that is ‘too revealing’ or, worse, that they are ‘asking for it,'” Raisman writes. “A woman’s choice of clothing neither determines nor reflects her character or intentions—and it definitely isn’t an invitation for sexual assault.”
These types of comments, Raisman says, can “provoke a sense of shame and trigger a feeling of responsibility that is misplaced.”
Raisman also reveals how she has been treated because of her own body, citing comments made in elementary school and one specific incident where a TSA agent doubted her identity, claiming she did not look “strong enough to be a gymnast.”
Raisman has become an advocate for sexual abuse survivors and is working with Darkness to Light, an organization working to prevent child sexual abuse.
Raisman was among the dozens of women who testified against former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar prior to his 2018 sentencing.
“It breaks my heart to hear victims blame themselves because of their outfit choice or how much they had to drink,” Raisman goes on to say in the op-ed. “I wish everyone understood that abuse has nothing to do with clothing. It’s about power and entitlement, and it’s never okay.”