For decades, Dr. Larry Nassar was entrusted with the care of young athletes. He was a trainer with USA Gymnastics (USAG) and Michigan State University (MSU). You may have followed the news as a growing list of women came forward with graphic accounts alleging he violated that trust by sexually abusing them under the guise of medical treatment at both the USAG, and Michigan State University. This week on “Women Who Rock”, I speak to one of those brave women who came forward with their story.
Her name is Trinea Gonczar and she was a long time friend of Larry Nassar and up until child pornography was found on his computer was a supporter. Trinea knew Nassar for 31 of the 37 years she’s been alive. They were family friends. Her nearly 20 minute speech on day 4 of testimony had Nassar shaking and crying almost the entire time. Listen to her story and hear why Trinea is a WCSX “Woman Who Rocks”.
The facade of decency surrounding Nassar began to fall apart in late 2016 when the Indianapolis Star published a piece on USAG’s mishandling of allegations of sexual abuse by coaches. In the months that followed the piece, more than 140 women, including prominent Olympic medal-winning gymnasts such as Aly Raisman, McKayla Maroney and Simone Biles, shared their accounts describing the abuse. There was also lawsuits against Nassar and the institutions that these woman say enabled him for so many years.
On May 16th of this year, Michigan State University agreed to a $500 million dollar settlement with survivors who filed a class action lawsuit against the university for failing to protect them from Larry Nassar.
Trinea now works with WC Safe. The organization provides those affected by sexual assault with immediate and ongoing comprehensive services, at no cost, that encourage survivor healing and empowerment. WC SAFE is a non-profit, 501(c)3, comprehensive organization that provides compassionate and trauma-informed care to survivors of sexual assault throughout Wayne County.
In the second half of the podcast Cyndy Schalter-Salsido from Turning Point Macomb and I discuss suicide. The recent deaths of fashion designer Kate Spade and chef Anthony Bourdain have sparked concerns among mental health experts about “suicide contagion.” Suicide contagion is the exposure to suicide or suicidal behaviors within one’s family, one’s peer group, or through media reports of suicide and can result in an increase in suicide and suicidal behaviors. Direct and indirect exposure to suicidal behavior has been shown to precede an increase in suicidal behavior in persons at risk for suicide, especially in adolescents and young adults.
Cyndy and I also discuss schools around the country banning students from speaking at their graduations. One story that made the rounds this week was out of Kentucky and involved a Catholic School. Another was of a student who had her speech cut short when she mentioned sexual assault.
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Domestic violence and sexual assault rob an individual of their sense of safety, power, and dignity. Turning Point provides emergency and support services to meet both the immediate and long-term needs of survivors of domestic and sexual violence. Turning Point strives to provide a safe non-judgmental place for survivors to explore their feelings and options, and regain control of their lives.
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