“Still I Rise.” – Maya Angelou
My name is Trinea Gonczar, and I am one of the hundreds of survivors of what is known as the first major public case of sexual violence at the hands of the former United States Olympic team doctor and Michigan State University team doctor, Larry Nassar.
As a child, I was molested over 850 times by Larry Nassar, someone who I thought was my friend and who I could rely on to care for me. Learning of the widespread abuse that he engaged in was shocking; at first, I defended him–it was too horrifying to consider what he had done. But as more survivors came forward, I had to take an honest look at my own experiences with him, relive that trauma, and come to terms with what had happened to me.
Over 90% of us were assaulted by someone we knew, someone we trusted, who groomed us and then exploited that relationship to harm us. And we each know all too well the lifelong impact this kind of experience can have on us: The inability to trust–both others and ourselves–the hypervigilance, the shame, the embarrassment, the anger.
I couldn’t have done this work without the support of my family and friends–but I’m one of the lucky ones. I have people that I can turn to, who have helped me begin the healing process, and who encouraged me to not internalize Nassar’s abusive behavior.
Not everyone has a support system like that, and that’s why places like Avalon Healing Center are crucial.
For over 20 years, this Detroit-based organization has provided support, outreach, healthcare, and advocacy services to survivors of assault from all backgrounds. Avalon’s holistic and trauma-informed approach to care is unique, and we want to take their services national–even global!
But we’ll need your help, as survivors in solidarity, to help realize this dream.
I’m personally working with other survivors, such as Jon Vaughn, one of the survivors of the University of Michigan Dr. Anderson scandal, to help build a coalition of survivors who can shine a light on those who assault others. It’s time to change the narrative for all of us.
We would love for you to join us in our work; your story has the potential to change the lives of survivors around the world. Assault and abuse most often occur out of sight, hidden from the light of day, and it gives cover to those who perpetrate these crimes. We need to change that.
Please take a moment to learn more about the important work we’re doing at Avalon Healing Center, and consider joining us in making meaningful change. I would love to discuss our work more with you.
Director of Development
Avalon Healing Center
P.S. I realize that it can be triggering to watch, but if you’d like to hear more of my own personal story, here is the impact statement that I made during Larry Nassar’s sentencing.
Interested in giving? Visit avalonhealing.kindful.com to learn more!