By Dr. Dean Aslinia

Yesterday we all saw and heard the reactions as the defamed child abuser of more than 150 young girls, a former medical doctor, Larry Nassar received his prison sentence of 40-175 years.

As a mental health professional I was infuriated with several things:

  1. The letter and comments that Dr. Nassar provided the court contained nothing but sick rationalizations and excuses. There was no remorse or human decency found in that letter. This sick man, who has robbed so many girls and their families of a “normal” life, now has the audacity to try to somehow play the part of a victim.
  2. Yes, I get he gets to go to prison for 40-175 years, and most likely will never to see the light of day on the streets we get to have the privilege of walking on. However, that to me does not seem like justice and seems so unsatisfying. As a sex therapist, I have sat in front of sexual abuse victims for years and held and carried their pains with them, in the hopes that one day they can become survivors of the horrific acts of manipulation, coercion, trauma, and abuse they have endured. Little of their pain endured is related to the physical part. Instead, I have seen the disruptions to these people’s lives. They have to overcome so much. How can they ever trust again? How can they sleep at night and not remember the memories? How can they engage in relationships and decide do I share this story with my new partner? A story that without their choosing has become a part of who they are now. Once you place the burden of the journey of healing on one side of the scale, and compare it with this demented sick predator’s burdens, it does not seem fair. This animal now gets to acclimate to a new life in the confides of a prison. No cakewalk for most of us but, he most likely will be much less burdened with tasks of life than those he hurt. He will no longer be seeking relationships to need to explain his past, and he will no longer need to fight through horrific thoughts as he applies for new jobs, visits his doctor, or plans trips. He will not have to worry about cooking, cleaning, or sustaining an income to survive. This, to me, is no justice.
  3. I cringe as an educator who tries to find lessons in life events. I don’t see how this is going to help us prevent anymore childhood sexual abuse, not because locking up one bad guy is a bad thing, but our problem is much more systemic than Dr. Nassar’s crimes, or the crimes of the next guy that gets caught. It took more than 150 impact statements, and piles and piles of evidence to convict this one guy! There is something wrong with that. What if there are only 10 children abused by another sick predator? Do we need to wait for another 140 to be impacted before we believe them? Over the past year, we have seen more public, celebrity, and politician revelations of sexual abuse, assault, and harassment than ever before. Yet, instead of believing the victims we accuse them of having received financial gains or have political intentions. We then further excuse the behaviors and language as either “locker room talk”, “just fun”, or “consensual”. Why are we then, so surprised when this convicted felon continues to make excuses in order to rationalize his behavior?

In conclusion, I believe that we will come one step closer to make a change to prevent these types of abuse and societal problems, only when our adults and hopeful leaders begin to act responsibility and respect and recognize the feelings of those who have been abused or harassed. Then and only then, can we begin to heal as a nation.