EAST LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – A high-profile Olympic gymnast and survivor of Larry Nassar took the stage in East Lansing on Thursday night focusing her speech on women and survivor empowerment.
Jordyn Wieber, an Olympic gold medalist and one of hundreds of women who spoke out about her abuse against Nassar made an appearance at the Wharton Center.”
Wieber focused a lot of her speech on “finding a voice” and the importance of learning how to move forward if you’re a survivor of sexual assault.
Our cameras were not allowed inside the event, but 6 News sat down with Wieber before it started.
“I think there’s been so much going on not only with us the survivors, but with MSU and the students on campus they’re probably feeling a lot of unrest with everything that’s going on so I think they wanted me to come in and talk a lot about survivor empowerment and tell my story of how I’ve been dealing with everything that’s been happening and hopefully help these students cope with it as well,”’ said Wieber.
And that she did.
Wieber shared her most vulnerable experiences with the crowd saying that it was only five months ago when she realized that she was sexually abused by Nassar when she was just 14 years old.
She says for her it took years to get from denial to acceptance, but she emphasized that survivors need to process the situation at their own pace.
Wieber also discussed Michigan State University saying quote “Survivors are not the enemy. We want MSU to move forward to allow students to feel safe on campus.”
She says there are a lot of people not being held accountable for their actions, the culture and stigma surrounding sexual assault needs to change and victim shaming needs to stop to allow victims to feel comfortable in speaking out.
But Wieber also pointed out that the biggest change she’d like to see is equality for women, saying quote “We have to talk until they listen.”
“They,” referring to those in positions of power.
6 News caught up with a few people afterward to hear what they took away from the event.
“I think it’s just that even though we’re just students on campus, when we do come together we really can make a big difference, we might just think that we’re just one student but it’s kind of just like voting…when you all come together, you can make a big change,” said Alison Miner.
“I think the biggest thing I took away was how she spoke about the identity of being a victim and the struggle with that transition to survivor, but also even the uncomfortable feelings around the term survivor…it’s just a lot to process and I would say I’m in that same boat of that transition,” Melody Posthuma Vanderveen stated.
“It’s hard enough to come to the fact that this has happened to you and then you have people throwing words at you like victim and survivor and all of a sudden you’re just part of this massive thing and it’s just important not to lose yourself in all of it,” said Kaitlyn Basel.
During the Q and A portion of the event, Wieber was asked what goals and aspirations she has.
She says to become a head coach for a gymnastics team, continue motivational speaking and advocacy work.