Rachael Denhollander (@R_Denhollander) is an attorney, advocate, educator, and author of What Is a Girl Worth?: My Story of Breaking the Silence and Exposing the Truth about Larry Nassar and USA Gymnastics.
What We Discuss with Rachael Denhollander:
- How the culture of competitive gymnastics contributed to the commonplace physical and mental abuse of underage Olympic hopefuls.
- How Nassar was able to manipulate the trust of parents while simultaneously abusing their children, unseen, just a few feet away using creepy sleight of hand techniques and misdirection like a masterful pedophile illusionist.
- Why the same set of circumstances that make parents hesitate to believe that such abuse could be going on under their noses is the same set of circumstances that make such abuse possible — and allows monsters like Nassar to get away with it for decades before their victims dare to speak out.
- How Nassar was protected by numerous enablers in the organizations for which he worked, and why they may have chosen to take his word over the consistent allegations of countless victims.
- Why Rachael was able to go public with the abuse that she herself endured from Nassar when others couldn’t, and how this encouraged other victims to come forward.
- And much more…
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Entrusted to care for hundreds of young women and girls as a USA Gymnastics national team doctor and Michigan State University osteopathic physician, Larry Nassar was perfectly poised to abuse that trust for decades. Now sentenced to centuries behind bars for charges ranging from first-degree criminal sexual conduct to possession of child pornography, he might still be preying on the innocent were it not for the actions of today’s guest.
In this episode, we talk to Rachael Denhollander, author of What Is a Girl Worth?: My Story of Breaking the Silence and Exposing the Truth about Larry Nassar and USA Gymnastics. As the first woman to speak publicly after filing a police report against Nassar, Rachael encouraged more than 250 fellow survivors of his abuse to speak out — leading not only to life imprisonment, but the exposure of a vast coverup that allowed him to perpetuate this abuse for so long. Listen and learn!
Please Scroll down for Featured Resources and Transcript!
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THANKS, RACHAEL DENHOLLANDER!
If you enjoyed this session with Rachael Denhollander, let her know by clicking on the link below and sending her a quick shout out at Twitter:
And if you want us to answer your questions on one of our upcoming weekly Feedback Friday episodes, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Resources from This Episode:
- What Is a Girl Worth?: My Story of Breaking the Silence and Exposing the Truth about Larry Nassar and USA Gymnastics by Rachael Denhollander
- Rachael Denhollander’s Website
- Rachael Denhollander at Instagram
- Rachael Denhollander at Facebook
- Rachael Denhollander at Twitter
- Kerri Strug Overcomes Pain to Win Gold in 1996, NBC Sports
- A Gym Built on Fear: Larry Nassar Molested Them. Now Gymnasts Describe a Different Kind of Abuse by Famed Olympic Coach John Geddert, CNN
- The Sex Abuse Scandal Surrounding USA Gymnastics Team Doctor Larry Nassar, Explained, Vox
- Pelvic Massage Can Be Legitimate, but Not in Larry Nassar’s Hands, The New York Times
- Joe Navarro | How to Identify and Protect Yourself from Harmful People, TJHS 135
- Read Rachael Denhollander’s Full Victim Impact Statement about Larry Nassar, CNN
- Little Girls in Pretty Boxes: The Making and Breaking of Elite Gymnasts and Figure Skaters by Joan Ryan
- Follow IndyStar’s Investigation of USA Gymnastics and Larry Nassar from Start to Finish, IndyStar’s
- A Bill Cosby Juror Victim-Blamed Andrea Constand For Her Crop Top, Bust
- After Sexual Assault Acquittal, Video Emerges of Mateen Cleaves Dragging Naked Woman into Motel Room, Yahoo! Sports
- Malcolm Gladwell | What We Should Know about Talking to Strangers, TJHS 256
- Bodily Autonomy, UCSB SexInfo Online
Transcript for Rachael Denhollander | What Is a Girl Worth? (Episode 332)
Jordan Harbinger: [00:00:04] Welcome to the show. I'm Jordan Harbinger. As always, I'm here with producer Jason DeFillippo. On The Jordan Harbinger Show, we decode the stories, secrets, and skills of the world's most brilliant and interesting people and turn their wisdom into practical advice that you can use to impact your own life and those around you. We want to help you see the Matrix when it comes to how these amazing people think and behave. And we want you to become a better thinker. If you're new to the show, we've got episodes with spies and CEOs, athletes and authors, thinkers and performers, as well as toolboxes for skills like negotiation, public speaking, body language, persuasion, and more. So if you're smart and you like to learn and improve, you'll be right at home here with us.
[00:00:42] Today, Rachael Denhollander, she was the first woman to publicly accuse Larry Nassar, the former Michigan State University and USA gymnastics doctor, of sexual assault. She's a Time 100 honoree and a 2018 Glamour Woman of the Year. Now, normally you don't make these lists just for accusing someone of sexual assault, but that's not exactly what happened here. As you'll hear today, Larry Nassar abused hundreds of women, mostly underage children, so let this be your trigger warning if you're in need of such. Rachael's story is one of bravery and perseverance in the face of massive pressure and backlash, and her victory against her abuser came at great personal cost, and that is why I wanted to have her on the show here today. Without further ado, here's Rachael Denhollander.
[00:01:29] Rachael, thanks for coming on the show today.
Rachael Denhollander: [00:01:31] Thanks so much for having me. I've been looking forward to it.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:01:33] It's a strange thing to say though, right? Because it's kind of like, "Hey, this person's going to ask me a bunch of difficult questions about this really tough time in my life and I'm excited to go do it." It's weird, right?
Rachael Denhollander: [00:01:43] Yeah. Excited might not be the right word. I think the more of the way I'd phrase it as, I'm grateful to be able to do something, being able to do something is better than not being able to do anything at all.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:01:51] I can imagine how that goes. And when you were growing up. You were -- is it safe to save religious or is that like a pejorative term? I'm not even sure these days. Is that accurate?
Rachael Denhollander: [00:02:01] I would identify as Christian, but yeah, religious would be fair.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:02:04] And it sounds like when you were younger, you had different jobs -- I mean, precocious is kind of the cliche word but that's really what you were, right? Like smart, ambitious -- you had loving parents with a high EQ, so to speak, and you as a kid develop that early on as well, right?
Rachael Denhollander: [00:02:20] Yes. My mom wished that I would have several children just like me, and now that I parent one like me, I understand why she said that.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:02:27] That must be nice, right? To be able to feel what your mom felt in the same way,
[Rachael Denhollander: [00:02:32] I have a lot of empathy for my mom actually -- not realizing what a stubborn child I was.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:02:36] How did you initially discover gymnastics?
Rachael Denhollander: [00:02:38] I had actually done a class when I was around five years old, and I loved it. So it was a sport I had followed, but I hadn't been able to stay in it. It was just too expensive. I really kind of follow the sport, but I didn't get to start until I was 11 because I had to be able to pay for my own gym fees. And so when I finally got to the point that I was earning enough money babysitting and doing various odd jobs, I said, "Hey, I'm willing to chip in for gym fees. Can we just make this work?" So I was never destined to be anything great. It was just something I love to do.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:03:05] I know you were inspired by Kerri Strug at the Olympics, and I think like the whole world was. You can't watch that giant global event and watch a young woman who -- I don't remember how old she was at the time like sub-20 years old probably -- jumped on a busted ankle and crushed a gold medal. I still remember it very clearly and I think I was in middle school.
Rachael Denhollander: [00:03:27] Yeah. It was definitely an iconic moment and it remains an iconic moment.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:03:31] Yeah. When you see the Olympics commercials, which they always show gymnastics because apparently, I wasn't the only person who really liked gymnastics and thought, "Don't tell your friends that you're not staying home because you're grounded, but you're watching women's gymnastics." I would go to school and the girls would be talking about it and I'd be like, "Yeah, that was amazing." And all the guys were like, "Whoa, you watched gymnastics?" And I'd go like, "Oh, crap, busted." And then half the other guys would be like, "Yeah, that was amazing." I'm like, "Okay, can we just get this out on the table? We all watched gymnastics last night." It's unbelievable and it's like the iconic moment that's in the Olympics commercials to this day. I can understand why that would get you into a sport. So you just joined a gym. Was it popular to do that were like all your friends becoming gymnasts and joining gymnastics teams or was this kind of something you decided on your own?
Rachael Denhollander: [00:04:16] It was something I decided on my own, but I did manage to rope my two best friends into it for a couple of semesters anyway. It was a boatload of fun to get to start that with them.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:04:23] It seems like it got real pretty quick because in the book you mentioned that the rampant body image and physical abuse both from other people, but also to yourself is just pervasive. I think the phrase in the book was rare is the gym without these issues.
Rachael Denhollander: [00:04:41] Yeah, that's true. And I was incredibly fortunate because I was in one of those gems without those issues. So my experience was very, very healthy. But gymnastics is a really insular community. And so you know what's going on in those other gyms. So we heard the stories about John Geddert, for example, throwing springboards at his gymnasts and how they couldn't eat, and the constant weight checks and just the incredible abuse that his athletes were enduring. And so while I was very fortunate not to experience it, and honestly didn't realize the extent of the prevalence, it was just part of that culture. It was an open secret. And there were very few gyms that stood against it. Mine was one of them, but there were very few that did.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:05:14] Rare is a safe space. I think there's another phrase you used in the book. And when I was researching this, I have an old friend who's now, you know, more of an acquaintance, and she was on the Romanian gymnastics team and she was saying like, "Yeah, all this stuff happened everywhere in the former Soviet Bloc as well, but it was probably worse." I don't know about the specific types of abuse, but when you talk about John Geddert who ran a gym called, I think, Twistars, he just sounds like -- if Gaddafi had a gymnastics gym, it would be run by this guy. It was just like a terrible place to be. It was clearly abusive and the parents were just kind of like, "Well, we're getting little medals to hang up on the walls so we don't really care." Like I don't know how as a parent you can overlook that.
Rachael Denhollander: [00:05:59] There is definitely part of that, but part of the way that Geddert was able to get away with what he did is he really isolated the gymnasts from his parents. Parents were very discouraged from watching practices. They were not allowed to stay and watch. A lot of the medical treatment that Larry did, including the sexual abuse, took place in a backroom in the gym where parents were not allowed to go. And that's a really standard procedure in gymnastics to isolate children from their parents. So parents have no idea what's going on in the gym at the Karolyi Ranch where our elites and junior elite trained parents were not even allowed on the premises. Those coaches had complete control over their athletes. And they controlled the narration for what was going on in that gym.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:06:32] I'm a new parent, so I have a six-month-old and it's --
Rachael Denhollander: [00:06:34] Oh that's awesome.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:06:35] Yeah, he's so cute and he loves taking baths and like kicking the water around and splashing, which is a good sign. He's not afraid of the water, and my wife goes, "Let's take them to -- " I think it's called Water Babies, like these little swim classes. If they were like, "Yeah, just leave him with us. He'll be fine. You can't be in the room or the building." I'd be like, "I'm out of here."
Rachael Denhollander: [00:06:54] Yeah. You know, unfortunately, that's not allowed in the culture in gymnastics and in a lot of our elite sports. Many of the gyms don't allow that for the parents. Again, my parents were very different in that they required a gym that allowed the parents to have an open viewing area specifically so that they could see what was going on. And because of my parents' productivity, I was spared a lot of what typical gymnasts do undergo.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:07:15] And clearly given your success in gymnastics, it's not required to be treated like crap in order to get good at the sport, right?
Rachael Denhollander: [00:07:22] Well, I got to be honest. I sucked. By the time, I started gymnastics, most people were elite and I was just beginning. So I loved it, but I was not anything good. However, there were gymnasts on my team who were very good. So no abuse is not required to get to the highest levels of the sport.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:07:37] What kind of body image issues are we talking about? You mentioned not allowed to eat. What else is going on here? And by the way, how old are these girls when this all starts?
Rachael Denhollander: [00:07:47] Yeah. You know, again, I'm a little bit atypical because I didn't start until I was 11 but the average gymnast starts between three and four years old. Oftentimes, by the time, they're competing, especially if they've got a lot of potential. There'll be in the gym 15, 20 hours a week by the time they're six or seven years old, oftentimes even more than that. And elite, junior elite level starts around nine years old, and by that time, you're working out up to 40 hours a week. The gymnasts see their coaches far more than they see the parents and their entire perception of who they are and where their value comes from. It comes from how their coaches train them and how their coaches treat them. It is an all-encompassing type of mindset when your child is involved in gymnastics.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:08:21] In heart of gold as well, not just you, but these gymnasts aren't getting breaks. They're encouraged to train and work out when they're injured. There are stories of gymnasts that had broken legs that were encouraged to keep jumping and just sort of tough it out. And then finally when they just couldn't even stand, they're like, "All right, we'll get her an x-ray," and like, "Yeah, you've had a broken leg for a month." It's crazy.
Rachael Denhollander: [00:08:40] It is! It has money and medals above the safety of children every time in the majority of these gyms, and that's heartbreaking. And the damage that's been done to these athletes, not just physically, but emotionally is just incredible.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:08:53] Why didn't you quit when you started to see this kind of thing going on? Because if somebody was like, "Hey, in podcasting, we're going to make you talk into your voice is really raw and hurts, and then we're going to yell at you when you can't speak and you're coughing up blood." I'd be like, "You know, what? I'm out. Go screw yourself. This is over. I'm done."
Rachael Denhollander: [00:09:10] You know, again, in my case, I didn't experience that. I had a coach who when we were injured, he said, "Let's get you to the doctor. Let's get the diagnostics." He would follow the doctor's instructions for needing rest. He was very involved in our care and he encouraged healthy eating. He encouraged healthy hydration. So my experience was not like that. I had a coach that was a polar opposite of what many girls experienced. And what I didn't realize as I was participating in the sport is how unusual that little sanctuary of a gym was.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:09:36] The way I should have phrased that question was, you saw this happening with other girls -- why do you think they didn't quit?
Rachael Denhollander: [00:09:41] You know, I think there's part of it where you want something so badly that it's hard to quit, but I think the vast majority of it is this as portrayed as normal. This is portrayed as okay. This is portrayed as what you need to do to get here. And the huge reason why it is portrayed as normal is because the governing organization, United States Association of America Gymnastics, they portray this as normal. They elevate the coaches that coach this way. They do not investigate coaches who were reported for abuse. John Geddert is one of the most brutal and well-known coaches in USAG and he was promoted to be the Olympic head coach in 2012. Everybody knew who John Geddert was. Everybody knew how he treated his girls and he got rewarded for it.
[00:10:20] And so when you're participating in an organization that holds these coaches up, and that tells the parents, "This is normal, this is good, this is healthy, this is what it takes. Don't take that dream away from your daughters." It just creates this culture where you accept what's happening to you and your whole perception of reality becomes so warped. You don't even know how abusive it is. It takes years of retraining to be able to look at how your coach treated you and say, "That was abuse. That's not okay. That was wrong," because it's put before you as normal. It shapes your perception of reality.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:10:47] That to me is highly disturbing. And I think that speaks to one of the reasons why this stuff, this abuse is so pervasive in the sport -- and we'll get to that in a second here -- but you eventually did get a little injury and you needed some treatment. The sport is rough. I mean, there's no, there's just kind of no way to keep jumping up through the air and landing on your ankles before something -- something's got to give. Is that how you got introduced to Dr. Larry Nassar? When did that happen? How did that happen?
Rachael Denhollander: Yeah, that happened when I was 15 years old, just after my 15th birthday, so I was not built for this sport. I was five feet six inches at the time I started, which is like two feet taller than the average gymnast -- well, that's a slight exaggeration, but you get my point -- I wasn't built for it. And so in addition to just the normal pounding that gymnast indoor, my body was not made to be able to do that sport like that. And so I started to have a lot of stress injuries in my wrist and in my lower back, and I had gone to a couple of sports medicine doctors. And gymnastics is such an insular sport, very few sports med doctors have any concept, just even at the physics of gymnastics. So they're not really able to look at an injury by and large and tell you what you can and can't do. They can't tell you how to condition. They can't tell you the stretches that are okay or the types of training that's okay while you're rehabbing that injury. And so these doctors were just telling me, "With just rest, just take a couple of months off. What's the big deal?" And so I did that. We tried it and it really didn't get any better.
[00:12:02] And so at that point it became a discussion between my mom and I of, "Hey, you may not be able to continue in the sport. That's possible, but we at least need to find a way to get you out of chronic pain. We need to be able to heal this injury. If you can go back to the gym, that's great. We would love that but we need to at least get you healthy one way or the other." And someone recommended that we go up and see Larry because he specialized in gymnastics. He was the best of the best. He was our Olympic team doctor. He had written the book literally on conditioning. He had patents for ankle braces and he was internationally known. Allegedly, he is one of the best sports medicine doctors out there. And so we thought it was an incredible privilege. You know, I've got access to the doctors that treat our Olympians. What kind of level-five gymnast gets that?
Jordan Harbinger: [00:12:40] So this guy has the golden reputation, to say the least. And he is, of course, at the time, everyone thinks it's out of the goodness of his heart. He's willing to treat these young women when he's also training the Michigan State team and the gold medal-winning United States gymnastics team. And everyone's just like, "Wow, this guy is so giving, look at him, treat everyone and all of these young folks." And the abuse you describe is so discrete. It's almost like sleight of hand, and this sounds so crass, it's like gross, but it's like a magician. Sorry, magicians. I hate to ask you to explain, but can you sort of give us some detail on that?
Rachael Denhollander: [00:13:14] Yeah, so I did go into a lot more explanation in my book for that reason to help people understand what this looks like. Because one of the things that I've realized as I started researching over the years is that -- actually the problem of sexual abuse in the medical industry, in general, is extreme, and there are a lot of reasons for that, but it's because it's able to hide very easily under the guise that medical treatment. All of us know, sometimes medical exams can be uncomfortable. I mean, you know, everybody tells you their child, "Nobody should touch you down there except mommy and daddy if they're helping you on the potty and a doctor if he needs to make sure you're okay." You know, we all tact that last sentence on.
[00:13:44] And so what Larry was able to do is he was able to act as though he were treating injuries and he would just brazenly abuse in the room. He would penetrate all of this with his fingers but he would do it under a towel and he would block our parents who were sitting in the room. He would stand in between them and ask so that they could not see what he was doing with that hand. And his hand would be under the towel. But he really wielded the trust that we had in our parents because I did not realize my mom couldn't see. People ask me all the time, "Why didn't you tell your mom?" I didn't know. I needed to tell my mom. She was sitting right there. I thought she could see what he was doing and he knew I thought she could see what he was doing. "Well, why didn't your mom ask?" "My mom didn't know she needed to ask because she could see everything except that left hand." And so he was able to abuse very brazenly right out in the open and that's actually not abnormal.
[00:14:28] We have found numerous, numerous reports, not just in the gymnastics world, but of pedophiles who intentionally abuse out in the open. And the reason that they do this is because it creates a situation that they know is going to seem so confusing to the victim. And it's also going to seem so confusing to anybody who might perceive something being a little bit off. Nobody thinks of a pedophile sexually abusing right out in the open, but it actually happens very frequently and it creates a shock response in the victim and it creates a response of disbelief in somebody who might be able to see something happening. Abusers are skilled manipulators and they are able to create circumstances that make it seem impossible to abuse because they know it's going to invoke the response. That's not possible if someone tries to disclose.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:15:08] Right, so it gets more blatant as time goes on because he's getting away with it. You mentioned in the book that he never stopped talking, which yeah, maybe he's nervous. Maybe there's a little bit of that, but it almost sounds like -- maybe I'm projecting something onto him that isn't there -- but it sounds like misdirection, like, "If I keep talking, they'll be focused on that," you know?
Rachael Denhollander: [00:15:25] Absolutely. Again, that's part of his persona. He appeared very caring, and most abusers do. They're very skilled manipulators, so he would ask questions about my homework, about my siblings' homework, and just kind of what was going on in our daily life, and he would just make small talk -- acting as if he cared. It created this persona of caring, of being interested in who we were, and it was also misdirection. You know, nobody thinks that a doctor's going to be sexually abusing their child while he's talking to the mom about the 10-year-old's math homework. That's just not in our realm of conception.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:15:53] Yeah, that totally makes sense. I don't think as a parent, I don't think as a human, I would actually be -- it sucks to admit this because you'd like to think like, "Oh, I wouldn't -- I can't be fooled by this. This is not going to happen to me." I would have such a hard time sitting in a room with a doctor, having a conversation about fishing at the lake house and then being like, "Wait, but he's abusing you during the --I was right there. Of course, he couldn't be doing that."
Rachael Denhollander: [00:16:14] Exactly. And again, that's what abusers do. They intentionally create circumstances where it seems impossible to abuse because they know it's going to confuse the victim. And they also know that if anyone dares to speak up or someone observes something that gives them pause, it's going to create that that's not a possible response. And that's one of the first things victims hear when they disclose. When someone discloses abuse, the immediate response of the person they disclose to is almost always, "That's not possible because," and then we have some reason why the abuse couldn't have occurred as described or couldn't have been the person that was identified.
[00:16:46] And abusers know this. They create that persona and they create that set of circumstances. What we've got to realize culturally is the same set of circumstances that are making us go, "That's not possible," that's the same set of circumstances that's actually making it possible. That's giving that person access, that's providing them cover, that's allowing them to abuse for so long without being stopped. And when we have that response, we have done exactly what the abuser wanted us to do.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:17:10] So that's again, terrifying. And the fact that this got more blatant as time went on is scary as well. This wasn't just something that happened once. This was like consistent over -- how long of a period?
Rachael Denhollander: [00:17:23] In my case, I was abused for almost two years, but Larry had been abusing since, at least before the 90s, and the first known warning we have of Larry's abusing is in 1997 which was three years before I walked into his door. And over the time period that he continued to be abusing -- a time period of at least 30 years as far as we've been able to document. There were at least 16 officials at Michigan State University who were made aware of, numerous officials at USAG, and we just discovered yesterday at least one official at USOC who warned about Larry treating young women in secluded circumstances. So over and over and over again, we had this opportunity to catch him and nobody did anything.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:17:58] USAG -- USA Gymnastics, and USOC -- is that the Olympic Committee?
Rachael Denhollander: [00:18:02] That's correct, yep.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:18:02] So Michigan State, the Olympic Committee and USA Gymnastics, which is the team. There were people in each organization that had been made aware of this and they just said, "Nah."
Rachael Denhollander: [00:18:12] That's exactly right. Yup. And not only that, did they just say, "Nah." In some cases, they actually intimidated and silenced the survivors. The first known report we have comes in 1997 from a young woman named Larissa Boyce, and she was a young teen. She disclosed this to Kathie Klages, the head gymnastics coach at Michigan State University. She told her in graphic detail what Larry was doing. And Kathie turned to her and she not only shamed her in front of the gymnastics team, but she turned to Larissa and to another 14-year-old who also disclosed and corroborated Larissa's account and had an experience of abuse herself. She said to these young women, "I could file a report, but there will be consequences for you and for Larry if I do." And then she did not tell Larissa's parents. She did not call CPS. She did not call the police. She didn't notify anyone else at Michigan State as far as we know. But she did pick up the phone and call Larry and she told Larry what Larissa was saying. So Larry knew he had carte blanche to do whatever he wanted because he knew Kathie was backing him. And over and over and over again, we see this repeated pattern at Michigan State University. By the time, I walked in Larry's door in 2000 there had been reports and at least three different athletic departments.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:19:13] I almost feel naive asking this, but this is ludicrous to me for her to have done that. I'm not the only one who feels that way, obviously.
Rachael Denhollander: [00:19:19] You know, I think that's the question we ask every time. Why didn't she do something? Why didn't anybody do something? And we have a wide range of possibilities. You know, we have, in some instances, there are coaches, not Kathie, but there are some coaches who wanted to do the right thing and completely lack of education to know what that right thing was. Then we have other coaches like Kathie, who were so loyal to a person and so convinced that that person couldn't be an abuser, that they chose to silence and intimidate the victims instead of even considering the possibility that Larry could be doing what he was accused of doing.
[00:19:48] And in fact, we see this, not just in officials, but we see this in trained investigators because there were two different police departments who investigated Larry and an FBI division who sat on reports of sexual abuse for 16 months before I came forward and a Title IX investigation all before I spoke up. And over and over and over again even these law enforcement agencies were either directly manipulating the circumstances and covering up the abuse or had performed such shoddy investigations that they had closed them out before they had even properly opened them.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:20:16] What's going through your mind as a kid when this is becoming a regular thing? Like are you immediately aware that this is wrong or does it sort of take a while? I can't really put myself in that situation because it's been so long since I've been that age and obviously, I'm in a different situation than you were at that age.
Rachael Denhollander: [00:20:32] So I had an added disadvantage to most of Larry's other patients and that I already knew pelvic floor treatment could be a thing. So my mom and I had been told by a good friend of ours about a therapist in Kalamazoo who practiced internal pelvic floor therapy. And this friend of ours had had some birth injuries and she had seen this therapist and was able to find great relief from her back pain. And so she had said to mom, "Hey, if Rachael can't get help, maybe you should take her to see this female therapist." And so mom and I had actually had a discussion about the science behind internal pelvic floor therapy and that that might be an option to try it, but we opted to try Larry instead because he specialized in gymnastics. So when Larry began doing his quote-unquote treatments, my automatic presumption was, "Oh, this must be that pelvic floor treatment I heard about." Now, I had no idea that what Larry was doing bore no resemblance to legitimate pelvic floor treatment, but I did know that you had to be trained and certified in it. I knew it wasn't something you would typically be trained in during medical school. It would be an additional certification.
[00:21:26] As I was laying on that table, I had a very specific thought process. I thought this is obviously something he does regularly. His movements were very brazen. They were very rehearsed. He knew exactly what he was doing. This is obviously something he does regularly. He's been treating gymnasts since the early 90s. There's no way somebody hasn't described Larry's form of treatment. If somebody had described Larry's form of treatment, surely someone would make sure that he was properly trained and certified. Somebody would say, "Hey, Larry, where did you get your training for pelvic floor therapy? Where is your certification?" And I trusted not just Larry. I trusted the community surrounding Larry. That they would do the right thing to make sure he was properly certified for the therapy that I assumed he must be practicing.
[00:22:06] Now, what I know now is that Larry was not trained and certified in pelvic floor therapy. You never actually did any internal pelvic work. He had another therapist, he would refer out, so he was not even operating under the guise of doing a legitimate medical treatment. It was nothing but abuse from the start, but I didn't know that because I knew pelvic floor therapy could be a thing.
Jason DeFillippo: [00:22:26] You're listening to The Jordan Harbinger Show with our guest Rachael Denhollander. We'll be right back.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:22:30] This episode is sponsored in part by HostGator. Let me guess. You've been wanting to build a website for a while, but you've been putting it off because it's hard, tedious, and makes you feel dumb when you're trying to figure it out. I totally get that. I've spent hours on the phone with my smart friends yelling, "What is semantic markup at 3:00 a.m.," more times than I would like to admit until, of course, I discovered HostGator. HostGator is an unbelievably easy and convenient website building service. It offers drag and drop features, one-click WordPress installs, and an easy to use control panel. It's basically the layman's technological paradise, and not only do they make website building accessible and simple, HostGator offers a ton of awesome perks -- unlimited email addresses, unlimited bandwidth, and disc space along with free SSL certificates, advertising credit, and WordPress blog tools. That's like the digital version of an awesome swag bag. Plus, if you're anything like me and you need someone to walk you through this stuff over the phone, HostGator offers customer support to make sure you get the exact website that you want 24/7 365 -- even my own family is not available that often. And if it's still not quite what you had in mind, you get a 45-day money-back guarantee, no questions asked. Just go to hostgator.com/jordan to get up to 62 percent off hosting plans, hostgator.com/jordan.
[00:23:46] This episode is also sponsored by Blue Moon. So normally during an ad for beer, you talk about getting together with friends you don't see all the time, a nice dinner out a happy hour, that kind of thing. That's not really -- well, it's illegal now, candidly. So what people are doing around me or wherever they're doing it is having virtual Hangouts. And I think for a lot of people out there getting together with friends online and doing like a Hangout or a video conference, most of my friends are having a drink and I personally have got a bunch of Blue Moon here that I was going to have for a party, and now I'm only partying solo. Luckily, though, not in a dark closet alone, I'm doing it on a virtual teleconferencing. So good thing they have those, you know, it was just for corporate meetings, but now those meetings are getting a lot more interesting.
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Jason DeFillippo: [00:24:46] Wearing no pants.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:24:47] Wearing no pants. That's what I like about this season. You can drink wearing no pants -- not that that's ever stopped me before. It's just that now you don't get in trouble for drinking with no pants because you're not at a bar full of people.
Jason DeFillippo: [00:24:58] Exactly. And you can start the night with no pants.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:25:00] That's right.
Jason DeFillippo: [00:25:01] The next time you're hanging out with friends online or enjoying a night in by yourself, reach for a Blue Moon. It's the beer you can enjoy every day.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:25:08] Responsibly.
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Jordan Harbinger: [00:25:17] I think the safest way to get Blue Moon is to have it delivered.
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[00:25:28] Thanks for listening and supporting the show and to learn more and get links to all the great discounts you just heard from our amazing sponsors, visit jordanharbinger.com/deals. And don't forget we have a worksheet for today's episode so you can make sure you solidify your understanding of the key takeaways from Rachael Denhollander. That link is in the show notes at jordanharbinger.com/podcast. If you'd like some tips on how to subscribe to the show, just go to jordanharbinger.com/subscribe. Subscribing to the show is absolutely free. It just means that you get all of the latest episodes downloaded automatically to your podcast player so you don't miss a single thing. And now back to our show with Rachael Denhollander.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:26:06] It's easy for some people to brush this off as -- well, she's 15 and a little naive. She's never seen this before. Her mother, same thing, you know, was in the room, but was maybe naive -- but this was not your first exposure to abuse, nor was it your mother's first exposure to abuse, unfortunately.
Rachael Denhollander: [00:26:24] No, it wasn't. I had been sexually abused when I was seven by a pedophile in my church, and my mom is a survivor herself. And so, you know, again, as I look back on it, I think to myself, what would I have wanted my parents to do differently? We had very open communication. We talked about everything. We talked about grooming. We talked about the warning signs of abuse. When I started gymnastics, my mom talked to me about some of the unhealthy dynamics in the sport. We had conversations about what a coach should and shouldn't talk to their athlete about where a coach should and shouldn't be, what to do if the coach was ever near the locker room while the girls were changing. What kind of appropriate physical contact there would be as a coach was stretching you or spotting you? You know, we had all those conversations very openly. Looking back on it, there's not a single thing I would ask my parents to do differently and as a parent myself, that terrifies me because I would like to be able to look back and say, "Oh, if only my mom had done this." But I really can't say that there's nothing I would ask them to do differently.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:27:13] That's one of the most terrifying things about this is that this can happen regardless of how vigilant you are -- because every parent who hears this, or everyone who hears this is thinking, "Well, these two bumpkins from Michigan -- " I'm including myself in that, by the way.
Rachael Denhollander: [00:27:27] No, I get it.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:27:28] You know, I grew up in New York. I know what I'm looking for. Like I would never fall for this. And it's like, well, the math is saying that you will, right?
Rachael Denhollander: [00:27:35] Yeah, it does. The studies that have been done on how well people are able to identify a lie or to identify someone who's lying -- very few of us are really able to identify someone who's lying. We like to think we're good at that, but we're not. Oftentimes not even detectives are good at that. And that vast majority of abuse and these abusers, it's not that they couldn't have been caught. It's not that there were no warning signs. It's more often than not that the community around that abuser that could have seen the warning signs that were outside that bubble that the victim was operating in, was outside of the shock response that the victims felt. It's that community that has the primary responsibility. So had Kathie Klages, for example, asked any questions, when she was told in graphic detail what Larry was doing, we would have immediately known that Larry wasn't trained and certified in pelvic floor therapy. It would have stopped then in 1997 with only a handful of victims. If the track coach or the softball coach or the numerous athletic trainers who were told all before, I walked in Larry's door, had asked any questions, you know, I would have never walked in there -- had any of the police departments done those investigations properly.
[00:28:35] But really what ultimately happened -- and this is very fascinating to me -- what ultimately happened is every single time a woman came forward or a child came forward and disclosed and they would say, "Larry's penetrating me with his fingers." Larry would come back and he would tell the police. He would tell the people who confronted him. He would tell the psychologist. He told everybody who confronted him, "They're confused. I'm in that region doing muscle work, but they're just confused." And over and over and over again, every single person, even trained police investigators, they looked at the woman or the child who disclosed. They looked at Larry and they literally said, "She's too confused to know the difference between inside and outside."
[00:29:10] In fact, in my police report, detectives interviewed several of Larry's close friends, some of whom were involved in clearing him in the investigation in 2014. These are friends of Larry's who are doctors. When they presented them with my statement, there was a friend of his who responded and she was one of Larry's close friends. She was a doctor in the same clinic, and she literally said, "When I'm a 15-year-old girl, I think everything between my legs is my vagina. These girls are just confused."
Jordan Harbinger: [00:29:33] That's insane.
Rachael Denhollander: [00:29:34] Yup. For 30 years, that's what happened. Everybody believed that these girls and these women were too stupid to know what they were talking about.
[00:29:40] The very first detective who picked up on the difference between what Larry was saying and what I was saying was my detective Andrea Munford. And she told Larry, "What you're telling me is not where Rachael's telling me," and she's the very first person in 30 years to do that.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:29:51] I don't have the same equipment as you -- I don't have a vagina. But I can imagine that is unmistakable when somebody is inside versus outside, it's pretty clear, right?
Rachael Denhollander: [00:30:01] Yeah. But again, we see this pattern culturally of minimizing a woman's perception and a woman's voice over and over and over again. "Well, how do you know he was harassing you? He was probably just complimenting you." "How do you know he was being a predator? He was probably just reaching past you." Over and over and over again, a woman's perception of what's happening to her body and the way she's being objectified or treated is minimized and ignored and excused. Her sense of judgment is not trusted, and we saw that pattern repeated over and over and over again with Larry too. "He wasn't really putting his fingers in you. You're just confused."
[00:30:30] And that's again, one of those cultural responses that we have to get over. We have to start listening to the victims who disclose and believe that they're actually smart enough to know what they're talking about. That women are bright enough to know the difference between a compliment and sexual harassment. It's insulting to suggest otherwise.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:30:45] By the way, for those of you who think, and we've talked about this on the show before, for those of you who think that you're good at being able to tell if someone's a liar or not, or telling a lie or not. We had former FBI agent, Joe Navarro, who's a friend of mine, come on the show and he started one of their behavioral analysis programs about non-verbal communication. He is probably one of the best in the world at detecting these sorts of things, and he will be the first to tell you that the most experienced investigators are about as good as a coin flip when it comes to being able to tell if somebody is lying or not.
Rachael Denhollander: [00:31:18] That's exactly right.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:31:19] Anybody who thinks, "Oh, well, his cheek moved this way and he looked that way." You're just delusional. So it's better to realize that you can't do it because every clue that you think you have is actually just misleading you. Now, how did you end up finally telling your mom? She kind of had clues she got from your body language, right?
Rachael Denhollander: [00:31:37] Yeah. So there came a point in time about two years into the treatment where Larry crossed a line that I knew his abuse. It fell way outside the category of any kind of normal pelvic floor therapy, and I knew that was abuse. And at that moment, just the reality came crashing down on me and I realized I was right. He is doing this every day. I realized that he was an abuser. I did not know the extent of the abuse yet. I really didn't. But I recognize that at least some of what he had done was abuse. And that was when I began to realize I was right. There's no way somebody hasn't described this, but that means whoever is coming forward is getting silenced, which means I've got to have public pressure. I've got to be able to get the narrative outside of Larry's control, outside of the control of the university, outside of the control of USAG. If I'm going to have a shot at stopping this guy, and I really had no idea what to do at 17. I felt completely hopeless. I'm sorry, I was 16 at that point. About a year later, mom was noticing some of my body language and just assumed that something had to have happened -- that she didn't know with someone. And so she just outright asked one day, and that was the one I disclosed to her the parts that I knew were abuse. And of course, that started a discussion with us of is it possible there was more? Is it possible that not everything we thought was pelvic floor therapy? Is it possible that it wasn't pelvic floor therapy? And we started just doing some light research, gathering my medical records, kind of poking around, and I was growing more and more disturbed with the answers that I wasn't getting.
[00:32:53] And at that point, you know, again, it was just a situation of there's no way somebody hasn't described what's been done. The fact that he's in here treating me and that he's continuing to treat athletes after I left. That means that whoever's speaking up is getting silenced. And I said to my mom at 17, "There's no way to do this quietly. I'm going to have to have press involvement if I'm going to be able to have a shot at stopping him." And so my mom and I actually talked at 17 about going down to the local news station and giving them the story and seeing if we could get somebody to publish it in an effort to try to reach other survivors and to get that narrative outside of the control of this big 10 universities and this Olympic governing body. And I just had no idea how to do that. And especially back then, reporting on sexual abuse was radically different than it is now. And I just felt hopeless. I did not know how to make that happen. So it was really in the next 15 years of researching and coming to understand more and more the depth of the abuse. And waiting for a chance to be believed
Jordan Harbinger: [00:33:45] For people who are wondering because I think this is maybe important if you notice something in your child or someone that you know -- your mom was saying that when men were standing behind you that it clearly made you tense and edgy and your mom said like, "What's going on here? Like why are every time there's a man standing behind you why are you straightening up and freezing?"
Rachael Denhollander: [00:34:03] Right. Exactly. It was really important for her to ask those questions because that helped me put words to the experience. I'm very grateful that she didn't just wait for me to come to her that she actually asked. And she did it in a way that was, that gave me space and gave me freedom and wasn't pressuring, but that also gave me the chance to use words.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:34:20] And you tried to tell a policeman before about this and you thought that that would work, but it didn't. What was going on there? I know in the book you'd said, "I couldn't even convince a policeman that I knew that this had happened."
Rachael Denhollander: [00:34:31] Yeah. I never spoke directly with the policeman, but what I did do is I disclosed to a head coach in my gym and is now married to this policeman, and the reason that I chose them to disclose to, was because I knew that she would go talk to her then-boyfriend. We were friends with both of them. I knew she would talk to him and I knew that both of them would want to do the right thing. I had no doubt about that. And so my thought process at that time was, "If I can get them to believe that I know what I'm talking about when I say that I've been sexually assaulted by Larry -- I know what I'm talking about. If I can get them to believe that, then that will give me what I need to be able to report."
[00:35:02] And I also knew that the policeman was technically a mandatory reporter and that if he were to report or tell me I needed to report that, simply having him say, "Hey, I know her. Take it seriously." You know, that would get me much farther down the road than if I report it to somebody all by myself. And unfortunately, that is not what happened. And again, it was -- and I think this is really instructive for us culturally -- because both of them wanted to do the right thing. But the coach talked to another doctor who said, "Hey, pelvic floor therapy can be a thing. They couldn't find any record that anybody else had said anything." Now, by that point, there actually should have been numerous police reports that were filed and there had been an investigation in Meridian County, but it hadn't been logged properly. So they didn't find any of those police reports. And none of the mandatory reporters who should have reported up to that point had reported. So there was no paper trail for all the warnings and all the people that had spoken up before I did, but there should have been. So they saw it, you know, there's nobody else was saying what she's saying. These other doctors' pelvic floor therapy can be a thing and they let it go at that. The coach told me, "You know, I'm going to go ahead and send this athlete to Larry and I've just told her mom to pay really close attention to what's going on. I would encourage you to be careful about what you say because the gym owners could be really upset. They were good friends with Larry and could be really upset if they heard what you're saying."
[00:36:11] That was absolutely devastating to me because it came from somebody that I knew wanted to do the right thing that I knew would take me seriously, and I still couldn't convince them that I knew what I was talking about, that I wasn't crazy, that I wasn't misinterpreting. Larry was a sexual abuser. I could not convince them of that even though that was not their intent. That communicated to me, this is hopeless. If I can't get even somebody who knows me to believe that I know what I'm talking about, there's no way that I'm going to get another police officer who doesn't know me to take this seriously. The last thing I wanted to do was report and not be successful because I knew that abusers escalated whenever they felt unstoppable. And that if I report it at a point in time where I couldn't stop him, that would kill my chances of being able to stop him in the future. I wanted to wait for a moment where I had at least a chance of being successful. And I saw no hope at that point in time.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:36:59] When abusers feel uncatchable or dodge the rap, they actually tend to get bolder and more empowered, and then they tend to escalate their abuse against more and more victims. So that is even scarier because that's kind of like -- nobody wants to think, "You've got one shot at this. Don't screw it up." It's like, "Well, wait, I'm the one who's being abused here. Why is it on me to like get the timing right and like to present this well? Come on."
Rachael Denhollander: [00:37:22] Yeah, and I think that's something -- again, there are so many lessons to learn from what happened with the Nassar investigation, both in what to do, you know what went wrong, but also what to do right. And the differences in how the detective who took my report conducted that investigation versus how everybody else had conducted an investigation. The differences in how the prosecutor who took my case, Angela Povilaitis prosecuted those cases and the majority of other prosecutors who are handed sex assault cases, the differences are staggering and the results are staggering.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:37:52] Nobody would believe a random teenager against the most important doctor in this sport, and that's kind of the problem. And you and your mom knew nothing would happen and it would just make your lives miserable, disrupt your chances of making this happen in terms of stopping him. What was that realization like in real-time? It must've felt so disempowering. That's an understatement.
Rachael Denhollander: [00:38:13] It was absolutely crushing because I knew Larry wouldn't stop. He had been abusing long before he met me. I was confident of that. He had continued to be using and he wasn't going to stop. And children were a large part of my life from the time I was very young. You know, I was the six-year-old who would curd around everybody's kids at church, school functions and things like that. I loved kids. I loved them. And so to be in a position where I couldn't protect the children, then I knew it was going to be walking in Larry's door was just the most horrific realization.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:38:41] You didn't want to tell anyone or talk about it at all at the time. And you'd said you bottled it all up. When you do this, is it like something you sort of think about every day and then you push it back down? Or is it something that pops up when triggered? So like someone standing too close to you but then you realize you can't do anything about it. I mean, we've all heard the expression bottling it up before, but I'm wondering if you can tell us what it actually feels like.
Rachael Denhollander: [00:39:03] Yeah. You know, it comes in waves and I think that's something anyone who's experienced trauma or grief would say. It often comes in waves. It does completely change your perception of reality. It really does. Because once you've been abused, you realize that things that seem innocent might not be innocent. After all, you know, I look back on my experiences with Larry and I asked the question, at what point could I have known? At what point could I even have stopped him before I ever was abused? At what point should I have known? Was it when he told me, "Hey, I like your boots"? Was it when he gave me a side hug? Was it when he told me we're going to get you taken care of? You know, because I have other friends in my life who are like, "Hey, cute shoes." I have dads of some of my friends who would give me a hug when I would go over to visit. At what point should I have realized something was off with Larry and could I have even realized it before I ever experienced abuse? I don't think I could have. That reality makes you really look at all normal human interaction differently because you realize that the innocent things that seemed innocent, that seemed to be the foundation of any kind of normal relationship, casual conversation, casual touch. You know, all of those things were actually being manipulated and wielded to be tools for creating violation. And so your entire perception of reality really does shift after abuse.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:40:14] So you're basically questioning who else should I not be trusting? Like am I setting myself up by going to hang out with my friends and their uncle takes us to the movies? Like, am I walking into a trap?
Rachael Denhollander: [00:40:23] Yeah, that's exactly right. Normal human interaction is no longer seen as innocent because you've experienced what appeared to be normal human inaction and wasn't innocent.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:40:32] How did you decide to try and come forward again after the initial discouraging events and just deciding, "Okay, there's probably no way for me to do this." How did you build the strength to do this again and why did you decide to do this again?
Rachael Denhollander: [00:40:44] It was always something I was willing to do. I spent a lot of time thinking through exactly what was going to need to happen -- how you would make that case to detectives, how you would make it to the prosecutors? The type of medical evidence I was going to need to have. All of the corroborating data that I would need to have -- how to explain it to people, the way the press coverage would need to go, the type of press outlet I'd be looking for. I spent a lot of time over the years thinking through how this was going to have to look. I had really given up hope that I would ever see the right set of circumstances, to be honest.
[00:41:12] But that morning in 2016 when the IndyStar article published. It had everything I was looking for. The Indianapolis Star had done an in-depth investigation into the United States of the Association of Gymnastics. They had spent a year looking at how they handled sex abuse claims, and they didn't know anything about Larry. They're reporting focused completely on what was taking place with the coaches. But there were a couple of key things I noticed about that article. The first was at this paper, which is not a huge press outlet, this journalism outlet had spent a year of time and dedicated an entire team to investigating what was going on at USAG, which meant they understood the damage. They understood why it was important. They were willing to put time and effort and significant resources into figuring out what was really going on. They had immersed themselves in the culture. And so I could tell by the way they reported the story that they understood the dark underbelly of USAG. They reported it in a way that helped their audience put together the pieces of abuse. They accurately discussed techniques of grooming and how abusers manipulate and the reasons abuse go uncaught. And so they understood all of those dynamics. There were all of those factors that I was looking for in a press outlet.
[00:42:18] In addition to that, the story was trending. I happened to pull up the story actually on accident just a couple of hours after it was published and it was already trending, and that communicated a lot to me also because you see the problem of abuse in gymnastics, including the problem of sexual abuse in general in gymnastics, was not an unknown. This was not an open secret. It wasn't a secret at all. Everybody knew what was going on in the sport. In fact, a reporter named Joan Ryan had written a book called Little Girls in Pretty Boxes that had published not that many years before, and that laid out in just excoriating detail what was taking place in gymnastics and figure skating both and the rampant sexual abuse and how the organizations were burying sexual and physical and emotional abuse with our athletes, and nobody batted an eyelash.
[00:43:01] USAG was able to very successfully spin the narrative and they silenced the athletes who had spoken up. They were able to silence, not silence Joan but very much minimize the work she had done. There had been other reporters who had reported on abuse in gymnastics and it just never gained any traction. But the IndyStar article did, and that was trending. I read the article and my very first thought was, "I was right," and my second thought was, "This is it." And I wrote to them immediately. I told them what my story. I told them the basics of the evidence that I had and I said, "I will come forward as publicly as necessary if you can just get the truth out."
Jordan Harbinger: [00:43:31] Before we go on with the investigation. You mentioned grooming. What is this and how do abusers do this? Like how can we recognize if we are someone we know as being groomed by an abuser.
Rachael Denhollander: [00:43:41] Yeah. So grooming is the way that an abuser manipulates not just the people around him, but also the circumstances around him to create a set of circumstances and a persona that makes it seem impossible to abuse. It's a way to gain the trust, not just of the victim, but of the community surrounding the victim to ensure that if the victim ever speaks up, the abuser is more likely to be trusted than the person disclosing is. And so oftentimes, this will mimic very normal human interaction. It will be someone who appears very nice and kind, who is going out of their way to do friendly things.
[00:44:14] You know, in Larry's case, he ran a charity for autistic children. He volunteered for massive amounts of time. He was the guy that would go shovel the elderly neighbor's driveway. He just appeared to be the nicest person you'd ever meet. He taught Sunday school. He did all of these wonderful things and then when he interacted with you, he had this very warm, casual kind of down to earth persona and he would just interact with you like he was your big brother. He would make small talk and he would show interest in who you were and he would make you feel like you were going to be cared for. Those are all very common dynamics with abusers.
[00:44:45] Now, there are some red flags that often pop up. You know, adults spending inordinate amounts of time with particular children. Tokens of affection or gifts that seem abnormal or are targeting certain children. And so there are sometimes red flags to look for. I don't want to minimize that they aren't, but oftentimes the grooming would be something that would almost make us instinctively go, "Why would I think something like that about that guy? He's so good." And that's exactly what they want you to do.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:45:09] When you went to report this -- I know you went face to face and you didn't want to do it by phone and in the book, you'd say fear of negative publicity can often motivate where ethics do not. You want it to show, "Look, I'm capable of pursuing this. I'm willing to drive up from where I am now to Michigan to do this. I'm not just going to mail it in or phone it in." It pains me to hear something like this. I mean, ethics around protecting children should be absolutely sacrosanct. And here we are having to imply that this will be embarrassing to the institution in order to get them off their ass, which is just infuriating at every level
Rachael Denhollander: [00:45:45] it is but that is the uphill battle that victims face time and time again. Out of every 300 rapes reported to the police, only about six results in criminal charges, only five results in jail time. According to the Department of Justice, the average length as prison sentence for a sexual abuser is less than the average length of a prison sentence for possessing a controlled substance. So our ability and our willingness to prosecute abusers and then, even more, to extract any measure of justice, even if someone is convicted, is extremely far down on the totem pole. It just doesn't matter very much by and large, and that's the unfortunate reality. That's the reality victims face. We have hundreds of thousands of untested rape kits in this country, not because the survivors didn't report. In fact, they reported it. They underwent a four to five hour deeply invasive medical exam where every part of their body was photographed and swabbed and touched and prodded and inspected only to have that rape kits on a shelf because the officer didn't care enough to even run the DNA. That's the status of the reality of what it takes to report a rape in this country or to report sexual abuse.
[00:46:48] And if you get that far, the likelihood of getting any kind of criminal charges is extraordinarily low. The likelihood of getting a conviction even lower, because so many juries are just -- their mindsets are so shaped by rape myths and cultural myths. You know, in the very first Cosby trial that we had, that actually took place shortly after I reported Larry, one of the jurors who was interviewed afterwards and asked his reasoning for why he acquitted Cosby. His answer was the victim wore a crop top.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:47:12] Oh my God.
Rachael Denhollander: [00:47:13] I'm dead serious. The victim wore a crop top. In fact, we had a case in Michigan just recently where a very famous basketball player, was indicted and charged and tried for rape, and they had this man on video camera dragging the naked woman back into his hotel room as she was screaming. They had two different 911 saying that she was screaming for help and his response was, "She started to have sex with me. She decided she didn't want to and she was drunk and she walked out of the apartment. I was just being a gentleman and making sure she wasn't wandering around naked and that's why I dragged her naked back into my hotel room," and the jury believed him. You literally had the video evidence of him dragging a naked woman screaming for help back in his hotel room, and that was not enough to convict. That's what victims face.
Jason DeFillippo: [00:47:56] You're listening to The Jordan Harbinger Show with our guest Rachael Denhollander. We'll be right back after this.
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Jordan Harbinger: [00:50:58] People don't want to believe this. That's the reaction I'm having right now. Like I don't want to believe that, but obviously, it's true. It's just, it's so revolting. My brain is rejecting it. Does that make sense at all?
Rachael Denhollander: [00:51:10] No, it absolutely does. I think we see that response of just. Rejecting what's possible and normalizing rejecting what's possible. In fact, I was reading Malcolm Gladwell's new book just recently. He's got an entire chapter on sexual abuse on the Jerry Sandusky case and the Larry Nassar case, and he excuses every single person who didn't report those warnings. In fact, he recently said we should be re-erecting the statue of Joe Paterno, and his reasoning was even though Paterno knew that Sandusky was seen naked in a shower with his body pressed against a prepubescent boy, it is quote -- very difficult to determine pedophilia if you're not specially trained. And so he has excused himself and spent an entire chapter in his book arguing that we default to truth and that the reason that Larry wasn't caught and Sandusky wasn't caught in that we don't catch predators is because we default to truth. That's not true. That is not an accurate premise. We do not default to truth. We default to what's comfortable to us and perpetuating the notion that we are defaulting to truth normalizes ignoring pedophilia. Gladwell is normalizing and excusing, not acting on very clear warning signs of childhood sexual abuse. And that is incredibly damaging because it is perpetuating our rape myths and our cultural myths.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:52:22] There are a lot of people that criticize Malcolm Gladwell based on those types of assertions in his work, not just that, but in other places in his work. And yet most people will never say anything because he's a very popular author and you don't do that these days. You write a blog post on Medium and then you publish it anonymously or something. So that's an interesting take because I had not even -- honestly, I didn't even notice that.
Rachael Denhollander: [00:52:44] I would encourage you to go read it again. The entire premise of his book that people default to truth is wrong. We do not default to truth. We default to what's comfortable. And when you say we're defaulting to truth and you ignore and you excuse all of these adults who ignored blatant warning signs -- a gymnastics coach who was blatantly told, "Larry's fingering me like a boyfriend." You ignore trainers and coaches who saw a naked man in a shower with a naked prepubescent boy with his body pressed up against him and you excuse all those people, not acting on that. And you say, "It's normal because we all default to truth." You are perpetuating rape culture. You're perpetuating cultural myths. You're saying it's impossible to see a pedophilia. It's not impossible. We see it all the time. We don't want to see it. We don't default to truth. We default to what's comfortable.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:53:26] During the investigation, you had to relive everything for the police, the Title IX investigators, the press, you had to watch videos of Nassar doing -- I'm putting this in air quotes -- treatment. This had to be retraumatizing in many ways. I assume this was one of the worst things you've ever had to endure, maybe second only to the original abuse or maybe even worse because it's more clear somehow and there's more of it and you're looking at other people. I don't know. You just knew it had to be done to get him off the streets, so to speak.
Rachael Denhollander: [00:53:55] Yeah, it was, you know, in a lot of ways I do think it was almost worse than the abuse itself, because then if the abuse playing out in front of an audience and the only thing that's worse than being abused is having an audience watching and knowing all of those details. It was a terrible position to be in. And it was a position that I and every other woman was put in because of these organizations and these adults who did not act when they should have. And I think one of the most troubling things to me and just discouraging things to me as I came forward was starting to find out that I had been right all along.
[00:54:23] There had been women speaking up literally for decades. There had been multiple police investigations when the Indianapolis Star story published -- the one that caught my attention -- and then I came forward about Larry, Steve Penny, who was the president of USAG at the time. He actually emailed the head of the child abuse division in Indianapolis where USAG is headquartered. He texted this guy and he asked the head of the child sex abuse division for help, quote, body slamming the sources in my story about Larry. And he was referring to the reporters who were telling the truth about what was going on at USAG. And I've got a couple of questions about that -- A, how did Steve Penny know that the head of the child sex abuse division was going to be okay getting a text like that? And why did that police officer continue to sit on that information? When Larry was reported to the FBI in 2015 -- a year and a half before I came forward -- the FBI sat on those reports. Jay Abbott, the head of the division, that was supposed to be investigating Larry, did not investigate Larry, did not interview the witnesses for almost a year and a half. Instead, he sat down and he had drinks with Steve Penny and Penny told him about a cushy job offer that was coming up at the USOC. So we not only see civilians over and over and over again, many of whom were mandatory reporters silencing the victims, not speaking up, not doing the right thing. We actually have multiple law enforcement agencies that were involved indirectly covering up for what Larry was doing.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:55:41] You're taking every phone call and press opportunity to push this case during the investigation. And you'd said, "My sexual abuse was now at the level of casual dinner conversation." Did you eventually get kind of numb to this? Because I can't even imagine being chatting about this casually and like, "Yeah, he shoved his hand inside me while he had an erection and pass the garlic mashed potatoes." Like I'm not trying to make light of this at all. It just seems --
Rachael Denhollander: [00:56:04] That's, I mean that's very much what it was like and that's, it feels very demeaning. It feels very re-violating. And the fact that I was put in that position and that so many of these other women were put in that position is the problem of the culture that we have. The victims are put in a position where that's the extent they have to go to, to be taken seriously. And it's not fair because it does re-traumatize at an incredibly deep level. And I do think to a large degree, it was actually worse than the abuse. No victim should be put in the position I was put in and that these other women were put in.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:56:31] Eventually police find just a metric crap-ton of child pornography on Larry's computer, there's like 37,000 images. I know somebody had come back with the counter, I think it was a defense attorney, and they said, "Well, that's actually not a lot for child porn." And I was like, "Do you hear yourself?" That's a lot of little girls.
Rachael Denhollander: [00:56:50] Yes, it is. That weighed on me almost more than anything because I had daughters and a son who were the ages of a lot of the kids found on Larry's hard drive. When I began this, my daughters were only a year or two, and then my son was four turning five but by the time we ended, they were around the ages of these children and I would just stand in my kitchen and I would cry, "Who's going to find these little girls?" Who's going to find them and who's going to tell them how much they're worth that this does not define them, that there is hope left, that this is not who they are. That process of healing is so difficult and so long. And the reality when you're seeing child porn is that that little girl is being victimized, or that little boy is being victimized by someone who's very close to them, who has continual access to them. And that that was just an incredibly devastating weight to be immersed in that level of evil so much.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:57:38] A family friend of Larry Nassar comes forward, so he's charged and arrested because she finally -- I guess since she wasn't on the gymnastics team, why did that work finally? That's what's a little confusing, I think for a lot of people.
Rachael Denhollander: [00:57:51] Yeah, absolutely. So Kyle Stephens is the daughter of the family friend, and she's a phenomenal woman, and Kyle had tried multiple times to stop Larry too. She had disclosed this to her parents when she was 12 years old. Her parents had gone to a psychologist and told them what Kyle had said, and the psychologist who actually worked for Michigan State University did not believe Kyle. He picked up the phone and he called Larry and he brought Larry and Kyle's parents in together, and Larry, of course, denied everything. Then Larry actually sat in the living room with Kyle and Kyle was forced to apologize to him. And Larry said to Kyle, "But you're right, if anybody really does do that, you make sure you tell." And that was just devastating for Kyle. So Kyle had tried over and over and over again to stop Larry. And so when she saw my story come out, she realized there was another chance and she contacted the detectives right away. And because her abuse hadn't taken place in a medical context. They were able to proceed faster with her charges even though her report didn't come quite as early. They were able to proceed faster with her charges because they didn't need to identify a medical expert to have that discussion of what can and can't be legitimate treatment.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:58:50] It's hard for me not to be affected by this, but it also seems incredibly selfish of me to be like, "Hold on. I'm having a moment when you're the one who went through all this." You know?
Rachael Denhollander: [00:58:58] I think there are a lot of moments that all of us should be having honestly, as we look at this case. I think we should feel the weight of it. I think that's one of the most incredible things that the Nassar case has done is it brought the world face to face with what the consequences of sexual assault look like in a way that we've never had to face before. And that was part of why I came forward so publicly. There were many, many reasons why I disclosed the way I disclosed and participated in a video interview and let my face and my name and everything be out there. And part of it is because you need a face to go with the name. When it's a court ID and it's just a Jane Doe, it's very easy for us to push that away under the legal ease that surrounds court cases. And what we have to realize is that there are women and children that are on the receiving end of the things that we're hearing. They're real people paying the price for the decisions we're making. And I think that's what the Nassar case did. That's one of the most powerful things it did, is it put the faces of sexual assault up before the world and forced the world to confront what it actually looks like in a way that we've never had to do before.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:59:52] In court, you then have to recount everything again in front of him, and you'd said that this is the worst part because he's a very victim-centered abuser. What does that mean?
Rachael Denhollander: [01:00:02] All abusers are victim-centered and that they are focused on the power dynamics. It's not just about sex, it's about the power. It's about the pain. It's about what they're inflicting on their victims. But Larry, in particular, was the type of abuser who wanted to know what you thought and felt, and he would ask during treatment. He would ask those questions. He wanted to know what you thought and felt, and that was something that I always guarded from him. That was the one thing that I didn't have to give him. And so to have to sit up in court and my testimony was over two and a half hours long, and to have to recant in graphic detail, not just everything he did, but the incredible impact that it had on me that it had on my life and my marriage and my parenting just felt incredibly victimizing.
[01:00:42] Larry had abused so many girls that he didn't remember me when I came forward and I don't get to be forgotten. And I know there are people that say, "Oh, well, that's you being in power. He's never going to forget you." I would rather he forget. Larry got to read every word of the journals that I wrote as I was walking through the healing process. Things that nobody else was ever supposed to see. Larry got to sit there and pour over all those details. I would rather he had forgotten me.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:01:06] By the way, I have to give you some legal props here because it sounds like you absolutely demolished opposing counsel when they tried to cross-examine you. Can you tell us about that? I know a little bit about how this feels because I've been cross-examined before. I'm also an attorney. And it is just so, so sweet, obviously, my cases have been quite different, much lower stakes, not even in the same arena. I will say my favorite part might be when opposing counsel tries to get you to testify that your abuser's treatments, "That Nassar's treatments might've been legitimate medical procedures for the back." And you said in open court on the public record, "I have sex with my husband and my pinched nerve in my back is still there when I'm done."
Rachael Denhollander: [01:01:46] I did say that, and as soon as I said that, my husband who was sitting in an opposite room -- he could not be with me in court because he was going to have to be a witness. He goes, "She's going to be really mad. She just said that out loud," and I was. We had gotten to the point where it was absurd. I wasn't saying what she wanted me to say. I knew where she was trying to go and I finally got to the point and I was like, "I'm done. I am so done. I'm going to point out how asinine this line of questioning is." She pushed me pretty far. I was pretty angry by the time that escaped.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:02:11] I can imagine. I mean, that's the moment where you're like, "I guess I'm all in on this." So you know, like she must've just -- I think that that point, she just sat down, right? She was done.
Rachael Denhollander: [01:02:19] Yup.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:02:20] There's no -- what do you do then? You're done. And then this Nassar a-hole tries to get the court closed in the trial state because it's harming his mental health. This just gives insight into the mind of this piece of garbage where he thinks that this is in any way about caring for him in some sort of a compassionate way.
Rachael Denhollander: [01:02:40] You know, I think one of the things that we see just glaring on display is the mindset of an abuser when Larry starts talking for himself. You have that you have the letter he wrote to Judge Aquilina where he's complaining about everything that's taking place and he's placing all of the blame on those of us who have spoken up and on the judge for allowing this quote-unquote media circus. Conveniently, forgetting that in the preliminary hearings where those of us who are charged victims had to testify under oath, he actually made demands for the courtroom to be fully open. He tried to wheel the power of the media against us knowing that for most victims, none of whom were speaking publicly yet outside of me, that would be an incredibly traumatizing thing. So he had actually demanded the opposite in the preliminary hearing, which is why I had told the attorney general who was trying my cases that don't even ask for the courtroom to be closed. Because we know he's going to come in there. If you ask, he's going to come in there and for it to be open, the judge is going to let most of it be open. Don't even ask. So he had tried to wheel the media and now he's complaining about the media presence, but he also did this in the sentencing hearing for his child porn convictions, which took place just a couple of weeks before he was sentenced for the crimes against us.
[01:03:41] And in that he delivered a statement at the end of his sentencing and his entire statement was how much he wanted the community to heal and that he wanted us to understand he was doing this for us. He was pleading guilty for us because he wants there to be healing and he wants us to be able to move forward. And then he says, "I want everyone to know I bear no malice." And I almost busted out laughing in the courtroom right there because after two and a half years of having to describe everything so graphically in the public. "Like, yeah. Larry, at the top of my list of concerns, is whether or not you're mad at me." I mean, that's what he said in open court because it was all about him.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:04:12] It's unbelievable. And this was no ordinary sentencing though. He wrote that letter to the judge that you mentioned, who by the way, the judge seems like a total badass in her own right. She read part of the letter. Can you take us through this? Because she really handed him his ass in the sentencing, which by the way, he's sentenced, he will never get out of prison, and the judge made sure of that. And I will say she relished this as well as she should have. She really was like, "I am going to drop the hammer on you."
Rachael Denhollander: [01:04:38] Yeah, we were incredibly fortunate to have actually a team of three female judges. So Judge Janet Neff sentenced him for the federal child porn charges. And that hearing was closed to the public per federal world. And so nobody got to see how she handled that. But she did a phenomenal job laying out the depth and the damage of his crimes. And she actually gave him the first sentence for 60 years and said that it was going to be concurrent with whatever he was sentenced for in state court. And then we had Judge Cunningham in Eaton County who also sentenced him to the max and had her courtroom fully open for all the victims to give impact statements. And then we had Judge Aquilina in Ingham County. And that's the judge you're referring to who read that letter that Larry sent to her.
[01:05:12] And I think that was one of the most brilliant things she did in the hearing because what she did was, she unmasked the abuser. Larry was getting up and he was pretending to be very sorry and he was apologizing to all the victims, and he kept turning around to look at us, and he had tears running down his face, and he was manipulating. He was manipulating the audience again. He was trying to form an emotional connection again with his victims. And Judge Aquilina saw that and she opened up that letter and she read what Larry really thought behind the scenes and what he really thought was, "I am a good doctor. My treatments worked. Hell, hath no fury like a woman scorned." And she really unmasked who he was and the level of manipulation that an abuser is capable of. And it was brilliant.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:05:51] So basically he writes this letter that's kind of like, "Dang it. Like, look at all these women that are just trying to get one over on me." And it's just really kind of like mean spirited all about him as per usual, and then he wanted the judge to read the letter, but then she kind of like saved some of it for the sentencing. It's very clear in the documentary and then at the end when he's like, "I'm sorry," he's turning around. He's looking at you. She actually stopped him from turning around to look at you because she finally realized like, "Oh, he's trying to get one last jab in on these victims."
Rachael Denhollander: [01:06:21] That's exactly what it was. That is something that we really have to grapple with. You know, societally, when someone can turn on the tears and they can pretend to be sorry, and they can say all the right words. We are very often fooled by that, and so that's one of the reasons that pedophiles and abusers don't get reported or don't get justice when they are reported because they are able to appear very, very sorry. They are master manipulators. In some cases, they are actually sorry. They're just, sorry, they got caught. And so to come face to face with someone like Larry and to watch him manipulate in real-time -- able to turn on the tears, able to act like he's just heartbroken over what he's done, able to try to access his victims emotionally again. And then to have the judge read that letter and see what he actually thought when the mask was off was just incredibly instructive for all of us to understand the level of manipulation that abuser is capable of.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:07:08] What was his sentence? Do you happen to remember?
Rachael Denhollander: [01:07:11] I do. It was 60 years for the child federal porn. It was 175 in England County on 125 in Eaton County.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:07:17] Right. So he will die in prison?
Rachael Denhollander: [01:07:19] Yes, he will. However, he is still making appeals, handwritten appeals that he's writing all by himself, and he has recently written appeal asking for internet access so that when he gets out, he can be up on social media, he can follow Twitter and things like that while he's in prison. He handwrote that one all by himself.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:07:35] That is complete lunacy of the nth degree. Like, "Look, I need to be up on Twitter because there are so many things on Twitter that are mandatory for me here while I'm in prison."
Rachael Denhollander: [01:07:46] "So that I'm caught up on pop culture when I get out."
Jordan Harbinger: [01:07:48] Yeah. Again, fully instructive of what kind of garbage this guy really is. Do you have any advice for society? The rest of us, when it comes to abuse and how to treat these situations? I've heard things like always pay attention to kids when they say they don't like or are uncomfortable around adults, but how do we get kids to speak up and be honest about how adults make them feel?
Rachael Denhollander: [01:08:09] I think that's exactly the question we need to be asking. A lot of what we say is, well, how do we get victims to speak up? And that really puts the burden on somebody who's experienced incredible trauma to be the one initiating. That's not fair. That's not where we're going to see most success. What we need to be doing is creating safe places for them to speak up, creating opportunities for them to speak up, creating a culture where they know that their boundaries and their feelings and their emotions are going to be taken seriously.
[01:08:32] So at a very foundational level, one of the things that we do with our kids, my husband and I do with our kids, is we teach them principles of bodily autonomy from a very, very young age. Nobody's allowed to touch you without permission. That's a rule in our household. And that includes quote-unquote good touches. You don't hug without permission. You don't tickle without permission. And they know that if somebody touches without permission, they can come to me and they can tell me and I will defend them, even if it's against their brother or a family member who's hugged them and not respected their boundaries. And fortunately, Jacob and I both have families that are fully on board with that approach. And so I'm very grateful for that. But we teach our children principles of bodily autonomy. We teach our children the importance of respecting their privacy. And we verbalize it to them over and over and over again.
[01:09:12] So for example, if one of my children needs to use the bathroom, you know, they're young enough, they still need help in the bathroom, I'll help get them situated. And then I will say to them, "Mommy's going to step out and give you your privacy now cause your privacy is important to me and I'm right here when you need help." And so I am articulating to them over and over and over again that their privacy matters. Some people should respect their privacy. If someone doesn't respect their privacy, there's something wrong and I will defend them. We start with very basic foundational principles like that that will grow as their sexual knowledge grows.
[01:09:39] You know, from a societal level, I think there are a couple of key things we really have to do. We have to understand the depth of the problem and we need to at least have a basic understanding of trauma and victim responses so that we can move forward with some base of knowledge. The question everybody asks, and I understand where this comes from, cause it's a fair question. What about false accusations? Let's be honest. Those do happen. They're rare, but they do happen. It's entirely understandable for someone to ask that question and to be thinking through like, "Hey, how do we sift through this?" Well, the first thing we need to understand is that they're incredibly rare. 92 to 98 percent of the accusations are accurate. They are true reports of abuse. We need to understand that. We need to understand what is and isn't evidence. So, you know, understanding that the average age of disclosure for a victim of childhood abuse is well into the adult years. So somebody who is disclosing as an adult, that's not evidence it didn't happen. That's actually normal for them to not disclose until later. We need to understand trauma responses like shock and freezing. That about half of the victims don't fight back either because they don't fully understand what's happening to them or their body actually shuts down and they can't fight back. Not fighting back, not screaming, not yelling. That's not evidence that abuse didn't happen. We need to understand these realities so that as we're receiving reports of abuse or hearing reports of abuse, we're interpreting them according to the actual data and the reality. We need to understand how poor we are at picking up on lies and manipulation.
[01:10:59] And then in addition to that, we need to use the power that we have in our spheres of influence because all of us has spheres of influence, whether that's your work, your academic community, your religious community, your physical community, your neighborhoods, your circle of friends. All of us have various spheres of influence and we have a voice in that sphere. We have our social media accounts, you know, and there are always issues of abuse that are coming up in pop culture, things arising in politics and sports. So how are we responding to that when those issues come up? When we hear someone perpetuating a rape myth or misinformation about sexual assault and abuse, do we push back on that? Do we graciously say, "Hey, actually this is the reality"? Do we use the voice that we have to educate the community? Because that's how cultural change is made. It's made through having good discussions about reality and the data and the facts so that our mindset can be correct when we go forward. And I do also think we need to start with our ideas.
[01:11:53] You know, we talk a lot about actions and what abuse looks like, but we need to start asking the question -- why are we doing that? What are the ideas driving the actions? What are the ideas either behind not speaking up, you know, and taking abuse seriously? Or what are the ideas behind abuse? I think one of the things we have to really start grappling with is our porn culture. When we are used to making it acceptable to objectify women and think of them as sex objects, it should not be a surprise to us that they often get treated as sex objects or that people don't take it very seriously when they're treated as sex objects. Because we have conditioned an entire generation to believe it's normal to think of a woman like a sexual object and to objectify her, and then we wonder why they act like that. If we want to start changing the culture, we have to go back to the ideas that are driving our behaviors, and that's a hard conversation.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:12:40] Rachael, thank you so much. You're very brave, very generous. I thank you for your time here and today -- sorry. I'm stumbling because this is, I'm still absorbing this, honestly. The magnitude of this is horrifying, and that's the real ending to this show. Not like the trite thanks for coming in. You are one of -- how many victims were there? Just dozens or possibly more.
Rachael Denhollander: [01:13:01] There are over 500 known now, and I think that's the tip of the iceberg.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:13:04] Hundreds of people have had their lives altered by this, and this is one abuser. It's hard to wrap our minds around this, and I think like you discussed before, that's one of the things that makes this so difficult is because wrapping our minds around this is something that most people don't even want to do because it's so uncomfortable.
Rachael Denhollander: [01:13:23] That's exactly right. We don't have a default to truth. We have a default to comfort.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:13:26] Thank you so much for your time here today. I do wish you all the best. Please keep in touch and let me know if I can ever help with anything as well.
Rachael Denhollander: [01:13:32] Awesome. Thank you so much. I really appreciate it.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:13:36] Big thanks to Rachael for coming here and having a very open conversation. Her book is called What Is a Girl Worth?: My Story of Breaking the Silence and Exposing the Truth about Larry Nassar and USA Gymnastics. It could not have been an easy book to write, that's for sure. Links to that will be in the show notes on the website. Also in the show notes, there are worksheets for each episode, so you can review what you've learned here today from Rachael. We also now have transcripts for each episode and those can be found in the show notes as well.
[01:14:04] I'm teaching you how to connect with great people and manage relationships using systems and tiny habits over at our Six-Minute Networking course, which is free over at jordanharbinger.com/course. Don't kick the can down the road and do it later. You cannot make up for lost time. When it comes to relationships and networking, the number one mistake I see people make is postponing this and not digging the well before you get thirsty. Once you need relationships, you are too late to build them. These drills take just a few minutes a day. It is not fluff. It is crucial and it's all for free at jordanharbinger.com/course.
[01:14:38] By the way, most of the guests on the show actually subscribed to the course and the newsletter, so come join us and you'll be in smart company. In fact, why not reach out to Rachael and tell her you enjoyed this episode of the show? Show guests love hearing from you and you never know what might shake out of that. Speaking of building relationships, you could always reach out and/or follow me on social. I'm at @JordanHarbinger on both Twitter and Instagram.
[01:15:01] This show is created in association with PodcastOne and this episode was produced by Jen Harbinger and Jason DeFillippo, engineered by Jase Sanderson, show notes and worksheets by Robert Fogarty, music by Evan Viola. I'm your host Jordan Harbinger. Our advice and opinions, and those of our guests are their own. And yes, I'm a lawyer, but not your lawyer. So do your own research before implementing anything you hear on the show. And remember, we rise by lifting others. The fee for the show is that you share it with friends when you find something useful or interesting. I think for this episode, somebody who maybe had a traumatizing experience in their past or maybe is bottling something up, might be a good person to share this with. I find her story inspiring and I find that many people when they hear stories like this, do gain a little bit of courage or at least insight into the mind of somebody who is able to break the silence. Please share the show with those you love and even those you don't. In the meantime, do your best to apply what you hear on the show, so you can live what you listen, and we'll see you next time.
[01:15:58] This episode is also sponsored in part by World Surf League Pure. It's the One Ocean Podcast. I'm a fan of the ocean. I'm afraid of the ocean, but of course, I am a fan of the ocean, you know, I love sushi. Does that count? But by 2050, there's going to be more plastic in the ocean than fish, and I want my kid, Jayden, and future generations to be able to enjoy it as well. It's so important for everything from the economy to, of course, the climate. I did the Great Barrier Reef a few years ago, and the whole thing is gray. Its corals bleached, 4,000 plus species of fish are supported by coral reefs. I don't have to sort of bore you with all that, but men, the ocean has taken a beating these days and from World Surf League and high studios comes World Surf League Pure, the One Ocean Podcast. You can check that out in the Himalaya app or wherever you get your podcasts. You can look for W-S-L Pure One Ocean and find that. Check it out. Let me know what you think.
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