Aly Raisman has opened up about suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after being sexually abused by disgraced former USA Olympic gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar, saying she now struggles with trusting herself.
The 26-year-old two-time Olympian appeared on the Today show remotely on Tuesday morning to talk about her mental health in the wake USAG scandal, after officially retiring from competitive gymnastics earlier this year.
‘It’s hard to put into words how much it’s impacted me, the trauma and the PTSD of it,’ Raisman told anchor Hoda Kotb. ‘It’s translated into different parts of my life, where I think that one of the things I struggle with the most from coming to terms with the sexual abuse is struggling to really trust my gut and believing myself when I feel like something is wrong.’
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Opening up: Aly Raisman, 26, appeared on the Today show remotely on Tuesday to talk about mental health and her new partnership with the self-care app Sanvello
Candid: Raisman opened up about struggles with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after being abused by disgraced former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar
‘I feel like I almost need to ask somebody else, like, “Hey, I feel like this is a little weird. Is this right?”‘ she explained, saying that she is working on learning how to trust herself again in therapy.
‘I feel like the abuse kind of took away that trust in myself, which I’m really struggling to get that back. But I’m working on it, and I’ve learned that the best thing to do is just to ask for help and to communicate with people because then people can help me.’
Since retiring from gymnastics in January, Raisman said she has also ‘really struggled with finding the joy of working out’ after spending most of her life adhering to an intense training schedule as a competitive gymnast.
‘I really struggled a lot with PTSD in the last couple of years, and I think it’s kind of like I almost associate that with working out,’ she explained, ‘so it’s been a little bit of a struggle for me.’
Trouble: The former gymnast, pictured at the 2016 Olympics, said that the thing she’s found most difficult following Nassar’s abuse is being able to trust her gut when something is wrong
Done: Raisman, who started gymnastics as a young child, retired from the sport in January
The athlete said she has been prioritizing her mental health, but she admitted that it has been difficult for her to go from training seven hours some days and being in the best shape of her life to not being able to go for a 10-minute run.
‘I was so exhausted, and I couldn’t do it,’ she recalled. ‘It’s been a big adjustment for me, but [I’m] practicing self-compassion.’
In January 2018, Raisman was among those who testified against Nassar, who was sentenced to up to 175 years in prison for sexual abuse during his time with USAG and at Michigan State University.
More than 500 women and girls came forward to say that they were abused by the former doctor, including Raisman’s teammates Simone Biles and McKayla Maroney.
Honest: The six-time Olympic medalist also said she has been having a hard time working out because she associates it with PTSD after years of rigorous training
Hard to handle: The athlete admitted that it has been difficult for her to go from being in the best shape of her life to not being able to go for a 10-minute run
Self-care: Raisman has been focusing on her mental health and is in therapy to try to learn how to trust herself again
The six-time Olympic medalist has since been incredibly outspoken in her public criticism of USA Gymnastics and the organization’s handling of the Nassar case, calling out the sports governing body for its failings.
Raisman admitted to Kotb that she still gets anxious and nervous before a live interview because she is worried that despite her ‘good intentions,’ she will accidentally say the wrong thing.
She was on the show to talk about mental health while promoting her new partnership with the self-care app Sanvello.
‘I know so many other people are struggling right now, whether or not they’re survivors,’ she said. ‘There are so many people that are so triggered right now for so many reasons. I just want to talk about mental health because I don’t want people to feel alone, and healing isn’t one size fits all.’
Using her voice: Raisman is pictured speaking at the sentencing hearing for Nassar in 2018. The Olympian is one of the hundreds of women and girls who accused him of sexual assault
Guilty: Nassar was sentenced to up to 175 years in prison for sexual abuse during his time with USAG and at Michigan State University
Raisman explained that working on your mental health can be intimidating at first, noting that she has had the same reservations.
‘I find that my hardest days are the hardest days for me to actually get myself to do it when those are the days I need it the most,’ she admitted.
‘So my best advice, if you’re afraid, just try to commit to going on the app maybe once for one minute a day because one minute is better than nothing.
‘Or go for a walk in nature for one minute, and just take that time for yourself. Do something that brings you joy, brings you calm. You know, maybe focus on your breathing for one minute.’