Aly Raisman thinks former Team USA doctor Larry Nassar is a "monster."
Last Friday, the 23-year-old gymnast publicly accused Nassar of sexual abusing her eight years ago. Nassar currently faces 22 counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct, though he has previously denied the allegations against him and has pleaded not guilty to the assault charges.
After Raisman made allegations against Nassar last week, E! News reached out to Nassar for a response. His attorney said he was unable to comment, due to a gag order in his criminal trial.
Raisman, who wrote about the alleged abuse in her upcoming memoir Fierce, sat down with Today's Hoda Kotb for a live interview Monday to explain why she decided to finally tell her story. "From the moment that I realized that it happened to me, I wanted to talk about it. And then when I found out I was going to be writing a book, I felt like I wanted to include the best moments of my life, but also the worst moments of my life, because they both make us into who we are—although the hardest parts are really difficult to talk about. Even right now, it's uncomfortable and it's hard for me to talk about, but it's made me into a stronger person," Raisman said. "If you're going to write a book, you have to include everything, in my opinion."
At the time of the alleged abuse, Raisman explained, she thought Nassar was "weird," not predatory. "I really didn't know what was happening to me. He was a doctor and he told met that his 'treatment' would help heal all of my injuries. I was so young. I had never really worked with another doctor or trainer before, and everyone said he was the best. He would give me these gifts. So, I really thought he was my friend. He always seemed like he had my back," she said. Now that she's older and had time to process what happened, she said, "He was such a master manipulator, and I think that's what's important for people to understand. These monsters are so good at manipulating you. You're so brainwashed...I thought he was so nice."
Raisman called Nasaar a "monster" and said she stands in solidarity with "other survivors." USA Gymnastics previously said it "first learned of an athlete's concern" about him on June 17, 2015.
For years, she was scared to talk about the alleged abuse. "It's totally normal to be afraid of what people are going to think of you, and I think society sometimes makes it hard for people to come forward, because you always have people that victim shame," she said. "We have to stop that, because it's awful. I just wanted to do the right thing. I knew it was the right thing."
Raisman first spoke out against Nassar in August, after 125 women filed a lawsuit against him in criminal court, claiming he sexually assaulted them under the guise of treatment. "I actually got a letter 36 hours after I spoke up in August. I was so nervous about speaking up. I spoke out against USA Gymnastics and the USOC, and I got a letter from a 14-year-old girl, and she said she read my statements. Because of that, she had the courage to tell her mother that her father had been sexually abusing her, and he threatened her life at times. I realized that letter is more important to me than any medal I've ever won in my life. She changed my life, because this is the right thing," Raisman said. "If I can help one person, then that's totally what it's all about."
USA Gymnastics has said it is taking steps toward creating a safer environment for its athletes. It also launched an independent review of its policies in light of the claims made against Nassar.
Still, Raisman doesn't believe the organization is doing enough. "They keep releasing pretty much the same, similar statement—that they welcome to work with me. But what people don't realize is after the private investigator came to see me in 2015, I made it clear that he was touching me and making me uncomfortable," she said. At the time, she said, "I was making excuses for him, which I realized later, that's often what people do when they're manipulated."
"I kept reaching out, saying I wanted to meet her again, because after I had time to process it, I realized, 'This is really bad.' I was basically told, you know, just to kind of keep it quiet and that they were handling it, and so they didn't let me help," Raisman claimed on Today. "I want to help. I want to do more. The 60-minute interview tonight, this interview, it's just the beginning. I'm just getting started and I'm not going to stop until I get what I want, which is change."
Raisman made it clear she doesn't want anyone's pity—she just wants justice.
"I want people to know, one bad chapter in the book or in your life, it doesn't mean your story is over. We all have a story. Everyone has been through something. We've all got to support each other," she said. "I'm going to be OK. I'm going to be stronger. I'm going to create change."
(E! and NBC are both members of the NBCUniversal family.)