All the Things Aly Raisman Didn't Expect to Happen When She Spoke Out About Sexual Assault

All the Things Aly Raisman Didn't Expect to Happen When She Spoke Out About Sexual Assault

Aly Raisman is on a mission to change education in gymnastics, in youth sports, and in all communities where adults interact with children. One of the many ways the gold medal Olympic gymnast is working toward that goal? Raisman just launched (like right now!) an exclusive collection with Aerie, and we couldn’t be more thrilled.

The Aerie x Aly Raisman capsule collection supports Darkness to Light, the nation’s leading advocate for the prevention of child sexual abuse. The 24-year-old athlete is shedding light on the sexual assault epidemic that affects both women and men globally, a cause that’s very close to her heart.

Raisman first spoke out about her own assault in 2017. The gymnast, along with 150 others, said that Larry Nassar, former USA Gymnastics national team doctor, had sexually assaulted her. “When I was younger and the abuse was happening, I was so groomed and so manipulated that I was definitely uncomfortable with what was going on, but I didn’t trust myself enough to know that it was sexual abuse,” Raisman tells Health.

“I did not realize at the time that it was actually happening to me, which is why It’s so important for me to work with Darkness to Light,” she says. “I hope to help educate other adults and children, and help adults spot the warning signs to prevent it.”

To buy: Aerie x Aly Raisman Unapologetically Me Tank ($30; ae.com)

When Raisman spoke at Nassar’s sentencing (he was sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison last year), she wasn’t prepared for how many people would see her, let alone the overwhelming support she would receive.

“When I came forward, I was so consumed with the fear of being so nervous to speak out publicly for the first time in the courtroom,” she recalls. “You never imagine how many people are going to watch it—you’re just in that moment thinking about how you’re going to face your abuser, and nothing really prepares you for that.”

Raisman feels lucky to be in a position in which she is able to be heard, and hopes to help others find their voice, too. “I definitely never imagined to be considered an advocate and activist, and I’m grateful for that. I take the responsibility very seriously,” she says.

Still, Raisman doesn’t glamorize the spotlight. “When you’re in the thick of your healing—you’re processing everything and going to therapy—it’s really hard. There are times where it gets worse before it gets better,” Raisman explains. She stresses that, for her, it’s all about finding a balance between wanting to create change and taking time for herself.

Fortunately, Raisman has discovered several self-care methods that have helped her heal. Not only is she very open about going to therapy, but she also keeps a gratitude journal and practices meditation.

“I work really hard every day to practice self-love,” she says. “It’s not something that happens overnight, but I think having that self-compassion, working out, trying different things to take care of your body and to feel comfortable in your own skin helps to remind yourself that life is a journey and that you won’t feel better overnight.”

To buy: Aerie x Aly Raisman Collection on ae.com

Raisman has incorporated empowering affirmations into her Aerie collection that won’t just inspire you to push yourself at the gym, but also to believe in yourself on a deeper level.

“I have ‘Trust Yourself’ on one of the sports bras to hopefully let people know that if you’re going through something and if you’re confused, it’s important to ask questions,” she says. “If something doesn’t feel right, it’s not right. I wish someone had told me that when I was younger.”

With an Olympic athlete behind the line, you know the clothes will not only be insanely comfortable, but also stand up to your toughest workouts. The nine-piece collection includes lightweight, four-way stretch leggings and bralettes in the brand’s signature Feel Free fabric, along with a soft “Unapologetically Me” tank.

The Aerie x Aly Raisman collection will be available in stores and online with prices from $25 to $50. Even better news? Fifteen percent of sales will benefit Darkness to Light (up to $75,000) in support of Raisman’s #FlipTheSwitch initiative.

“I love so much what Aerie is doing,” Raisman tells us. “They are so supportive of women and girls and they are all about body positivity. The more body positivity spread throughout the world and the more self-love people have, we’re going to see a lot more happiness and kindness to one another.”

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