Larry Nassar Represents The Potential For Evil In All Of Us
Start writing a post
Sports

Larry Nassar Represents The Potential For Evil In All Of Us

How the urge to describe evil as something other than human leads to sexual abuse survivor disbelief.

129
Larry Nassar Represents The Potential For Evil In All Of Us
Los Angeles Times

When Rachael Denhollander first spoke publicly about the horrific abuse she experienced at the hands of a USA Gymnastics physician Larry Nassar, I half-expected the monster she was implicating to have horns sprouting from his head, perhaps fangs or claws—something to visually differentiate him from the kind and decent humanity I thought I knew. But nothing in the appearance of Nassar gave away his predilection for destroying the lives of children. The picture provided in the article describing his crimes had him wearing a crisp polo. His face was clean shaven, and below the photograph was his name sandwiched by his lofty credentials, doctor of osteopathy. Elsewhere, he is described as “one of the most respected gymnastics professionals,” by a former US Olympics Gymnastics Team coach. Where did this, his human side, end and his evil begin?

The truth, of course, was that the doctor in the picture was the entirely human monster described by Denhollander and more than 150 survivors thereafter, appearing exactly how he did when he committed his hundreds of crimes. Larry Nassar was and is an evil human being, despite any other pleasant interactions he may have had. And when we refuse to believe that otherwise normal people—husbands, fathers, brothers, pillars of a community—can be as predatorily despicable as the public now knows Nassar to be, we are denying the all-too-real experience of sexual abuse survivors solely for the upkeep of our own naïveté.

The persistent need to think of these acts as something outside of human nature no doubt stems from our tendency to color ourselves and those close to us with shades of improbable goodness. To admit that humans are intrinsically capable of evil is to concede that we, too, are capable of that evil, and, more appropriately for this discussion, that the people we know, love, and with whom we regularly associate are also capable of evil. It is convenient and comforting, then, to dichotomize the world into those who are like us, the good, and those who are unlike us, the inhuman.

When distant strangers like Larry Nassar are accused of heinous crimes, it is easy to fall back on this dichotomy and simply reclassify him as something altogether different from ourselves and our social network. But if allegations fall upon those who are close to us, how does our dichotomous system reconcile two simultaneous experiences, our own and those of the abused? If we have witnessed the humanity in a friend, coworker, etc., and someone else has witnessed evil in them, upholding a vision of a human race devoid of the capabilities of monstrosities like rape and sexual abuse inevitably results in the disbelief of real sexual abuse survivors.

This flaw in the conceptualization of humanity is what often contributes to sending institutions down paths of destruction, allowing serial abusers like Larry Nassar or Jerry Sandusky to flourish. For decades, Jerry Sandusky was allowed to prey on young boys at his home and in the Penn State locker rooms. This, because the few brave testimonies that made it to Sandusky’s superiors, namely Joe Paterno and the Penn State administration, did not survive a simple question: how could a friend, a colleague, be capable of this evil? The ongoing investigations at Michigan State, which have now branched outward into patterns of sexual abuse by members of the football and basketball teams, is sure to reveal a similar pattern of doubting survivors of sexual crimes in favor of protecting the image of friends and team members who were accused.

Evil is inescapably human, as much as a rosy perception of our species would lead us to otherwise believe. Some would rather assert that Larry Nassar is not human, but a wolf in sheep’s clothing. But this establishes a mindset that will indefinitely doubt the accounts of sexual abuse survivors. If the voice struggling to be heard comes to us, reporting atrocities committed by our coworkers, teammates, or friends, the very least we can do is wholeheartedly listen, take appropriate action, and remember what our humanity makes us capable of doing.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

Dunkin' just announced that they'll be releasing their fall menu earlier than ever — set to debut on August 19 — and that it'll include new menu options this season, including a new signature pumpkin spice latte. Let me just say, Starbucks has some fall-menu competition now.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

CBD Lip Balm Is The Calming Presence You Need In Your Life, Trust Me

I tried lip balm, sleep gummies, and an oil dropper from CBDistillery. Here's the final verdict.

@lilyjmoe

CBD has been on making waves within the wellness space for the last few years. Generally related to the treatment of anxiety, insomnia, and chronic pain, it's growing easier to find small CBD companies who are making products specifically designed to fit your needs. As FDA rules for CBD production can be a little hazy, it's true that not all CBD products are created equally. That's why it's important to look into the manufacturing of whatever you're deciding to try, especially if you're new to taking CBD.

As someone who has tried a variety of CBD products — some victories, some failures — I was thrilled when CBDistillery sent me a package of their favorites. They included a Broad Spectrum CBD Oil Tincture, their Nighttime Gummies, and a CBD Lip Balm.

Keep Reading... Show less

After a few months of self-quarantining, becoming suspicious of every cough, and blowing through masks like a medical school student, restrictions due to the pandemic are easing up a bit and businesses are warily reopening. While these public spaces may look the same on the outside, the way they function and operate is vastly different than a few months ago.

Keep Reading... Show less

It's the most wonderful time of the year again — it's sorority recruitment season! While recruitment can be a fun and memorable experience, it can also take a toll on your mental health, especially this year, considering the special circumstances brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. Here are a few reminders to keep in your mental health toolkit during recruitment week to help keep your mental health at bay during this unique experience.

Keep Reading... Show less

When it comes to wedding planning, each and every detail is customized to the style of the couple. From venue and decorations to food and beverages, nothing gets overlooked — whether your wedding is big, small, or virtual.

The same thing goes for invites, which are getting more and more beautiful every wedding season. If you're looking to customize your wedding invitations, the options are endless... you can add pictures if you wish, opt for fancy artwork, or keep it simple with just text).

Keep Reading... Show less
Lifestyle

23 Burning Questions We Have For The Taureans In Our Lives, Answered By A Taurus

The remaining 11 signs took the bull by the horns, and it was a fun and insightful experience!

Jordyn Leach

Lately, I've been digging deeper into astrology and studying my sign. Throughout the journey, it's come to my attention that Taurus are probably one of the most complicated signs - that is, if you're not a Taurus.

To gain a little more perspective on how my sign is viewed by the others, I requested that the participants submit a question in response to the following:

Keep Reading... Show less
Universal Pictures

A music enthusiast like myself has a playlist for every mood. Life's a movie and you're the main character. In no specific order, listen to these songs to feel on top of the world!

Pro Tip: turn your crossfade up to 3 seconds for a seamless transition between each song!

Keep Reading... Show less

We've all been there. You see that super cute guy on your dating app of choice, his bio is funny, and then, the gut-wrenching feeling hits when you see their political views don't exactly line up with yours. He loves Trump, you can't stand him, or vice versa.

A lot of people will say you can get over politics, but I know from personal experience, as well as this survey, that politics play a huge role in whether a relationship will work or if we're even willing to swipe right on that profile.

Keep Reading... Show less

I work as an orientation leader for my college, and the job included summer housing.

Keep Reading... Show less

With no sign of the pandemic going anywhere, brides and grooms who planned to be married in 2020 are forced to opt for plan B — if not plan C or D. While some are downsizing their in-person weddings to meet coronavirus guidelines and state restrictions, others are choosing to cancel theirs until further notice and some, well, they're embracing the virtual "I do."

A few weekends ago, I had the pleasure of attending a Zoom wedding for my friend and fellow editor and writer, Kristin Magaldi, and the short-but-sweet ceremony left me in happy tears (surprise surprise). In order to get the scoop on what exactly went into planning a virtual wedding, I asked Kristin to share her best tips so other couples know exactly how to have a Zoom wedding in case they're looking to lean into the video chat vows, too.

Keep Reading... Show less
Facebook Comments