Olympic powerhouse Aly Raisman was one of 163 women to read victim impact statements during the sentencing of former doctor Larry Nassar last week, and although her words continue to ring true for many, the multi-medal winner says that standing up in front of the court was one of the most difficult things she’s ever done.

“In that moment, I almost felt like I was going to compete, because at the Olympics, you block out everything, and in that moment, I blocked out everything,” Raisman told Today host Hota Kotb. “I forgot that people were watching me, I forgot the media was over there, I forgot that Larry was right there. … I just spoke, and I felt like I really had to be strong.”

Although she prepped for her day in court by looking at photos of Nassar, the 23-year-old also admitted that she felt sick immediately after giving her statement, and still does.

“I almost passed out [after giving testimony]. I had the worst headache for hours. Even since then — I still don’t feel good now. … It’s hard to put into words, but it makes me literally sick, all the stress and the trauma of everything. For that moment, I had to be strong. But I’m very, very exhausted from it.”

Raisman’s statement to the court has given many women hope, including her describing Nassar’s victims, and really, all victims of abuse as “an army of survivors,” which Kotb noted was a popular saying on many placards during the 2018 Women’s March. 

Moving forward, Raisman wants to lead the charge in not only creating change but understanding why such abuses could be allowed to fester in the first place, saying, “we need to investigate how this happened,” rhetorically asking Kotb how USAG could put medals and fame above the safety of gymnasts.

“I wanna make sure this never ever happens again, and, you know, I ended my statement saying that I hope that everyone one day will be educated so that they will know how to see the warning signs of a predator so that they will never have to say the words, too.,” Raisman concluded.

“And I meant it, with all my heart. I am very passionate about creating change and making sure that abuse never happens.”

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(Photo via Alex Livesey/Getty)