Why don’t abuse victims speak up? Why don’t they just trust the justice system? Or why don’t they just get over it?
If you have ever asked these questions, you’ll want to become acquainted with Rachael Denhollander’s story of breaking her silence about Larry Nassar and USA Gymnastics.
I don’t say it lightly when I say “What is a Girl Worth?” is a book that every Christian, and especially every Christian pastor, needs to read. I have heard too many tear-stained stories from girls and women to think that the issues this book raises are issues are far from any of us.
Who is Rachael Denhollander?
In case you aren’t familiar with Rachael, she is an extremely mature Christian who was largely responsible for ensuring that the nation’s most prolific child molester to date was put behind bars. In January of 2018, Larry Nassar was sentenced to 40 to 175 years in a Michigan state prison after pleading guilty to seven counts of sexual assault of minors.
There is no question of his guilt. He confessed it. And yet, it took over 20 years of girls and women reporting his actions in order for him to be held accountable for his crimes, and more significantly, for girls to be protected from his abuse. And yet this still wasn’t enough.
For 20 years, girls and women – in isolation from one another – spoke up. The USA Gynmastics system failed them. The police failed them. The justice system failed them. Meanwhile, Nassar continued to abuse girls as young as 8 in the guise of medical care. Before he was sentenced, over 200 women came forward as victims. The heartbreaking victim impact statements of approximately 100 women took 7 days in court for them to read.
What Did It Take to Finally Convict Him?
What did it take to finally protect these girls? It took extreme bravery and vulnerability from the women and girls who reported. It took tenacious investigative journalism. It took police detectives and attorneys who didn’t give into pressure.
It took police finding 37,000 files of child pornography on his computers.
Let that sink in.
And yet, all of this still wouldn’t have been enough without the tenacity of a mature Christian whose family had taught her how to love sacrificially.
And even then, it took Rachael Denhollander 16 years and a law degree to prepare her case against Larry Nassar. And even then, bringing Nassar to justice wouldn’t have been possible without the sacrificial support of her husband and family and a tireless tenacity on her part.
I’ve been following her story for the past 1.5 years. Over the weekend, I read her book. Reading it is worth your time, too.
I also highly recommend her picture book for little girls, How Much Is a Little Girl Worth?