In her first public appearance since September, Christine Blasey Ford made a video statement honoring Rachael Denhollander, the first woman to speak on the record accusing Larry Nassar of sexual assault.
In a video announcing Denhollander as Sports Illustrated’s Inspiration of the Year, Blasey Ford spoke of the former gymnast’s courage in publicly accusing Nassar.
“I am honored to speak with you from afar about a woman I admire so much, a woman who suffered abuse as a vulnerable teenage athlete, who found the courage to talk publicly to stop the abuse of others,” she said. “Her courage inspired others survivors to end their silence, and we all know the result.”
Denhollander, whom Nassar treated for back pain in 2000 when she was 15, filed a criminal complaint against him in 2016, stating that he had digitally penetrated her vagina and anus and massaged her breasts during several treatments.
Blasey Ford, who has faced death threats since accusing Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault, has kept a relatively low profile since testifying about her allegations at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. In November, she expressed gratitude to the people who have supported her as she and her family have had to move houses four times for their safety, writing on a now-closed GoFundMe page, “Your tremendous outpouring of support and kind letters have made it possible for us to cope with the immeasurable stress … Because of your support, I feel hopeful that our lives will return to normal.”
In the video, Blasey Ford said she is “in awe of” and “will always be inspired by” Denhollander. “In stepping forward, you took a huge risk and you galvanized future generations to come forward, even when the odds are seemingly stacked against them,” she went on. “The lasting lesson is that we all have the power to create real change, and we cannot allow ourselves to be defined by the acts of others.”