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3 Questions with Rachel Haines
Abused: Surviving Sexual Assault and a Toxic Gymnastics Culture
In her book, U.S. National Team member Rachel Haines details her experiences with the dangerously toxic culture of gymnastics and the painful realities of being one of Larry Nassar’s many victims. In a world that was setting her up for a lifetime of recovery, she tells how faith, family, and an army of survivors made healing possible.
In this Q&A, we asked Rachel 3 questions for our readers to get a glimpse behind the scenes.
1) Why did you write your book and what do you hope readers gain from it?
My book started out as a journal. When the case for Larry Nassar began to unfold, I was finding it very difficult to stop my thoughts and feelings from overwhelming my mind to the point of not being able to get through daily activities. I began writing; slowly creating this personal memoir that reflected on everything that had created me into who I am now. I relived my entire gymnastics career, and realized how I was, in fact, molded into this perfect vulnerable victim for Larry to manipulate. I wrote the book to start to heal from my experiences, and it resulted in learning so much more about who I am and how I got to be here. My story discusses multiple themes like competition, abuse, healing, retirement, injury, and faith. I hope my book connects to readers who are also experiencing those themes in their lives, so that maybe it makes them feel they are not alone, inspired, and even empowered.
2) Everyone has a favorite sentence in their book. What is yours?
My book has so many sentences that I read and feel this sense of empowerment that I couldn't pick one as my favorite. But no sentence brings me the amount of comfort and peace, no matter how many times I read it, as "Larry, I forgive you."
3) When you were writing your book, what was your biggest challenge?
Finishing it. Every chapter I wrote got me closer to the chapters that I dreaded writing. Writing my book meant reliving the deepest, darkest moments of my life. My shattered spine, my four level spinal fusion, my experiences with Larry Nassar. The last five chapters of my story took me the longest to write. I had to take many breaks, many breaths. Getting through them meant putting myself back in the shoes of the injured, the abused, and nothing was more challenging than that.
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