The Sister Survivors Have Spoken
Student Researcher: Corrine Longenbach
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Emily Murphy-Cope
Abstract: The effects of sexual abuse have been studied through several lenses belonging to a variety of disciplines. Scholars assert that survivors often struggle with verbalizing their experiences and emotions and establishing their credibility when presenting victim-impact statements. While current scholarship provides insight into the use of rhetoric of all types of sexual abuse victims, there has not been adequate research focused only on the survivors of Larry Nassar and how their unique experience shaped their statements in court. My paper explores the combined rhetoric of sexual abuse victims and victim-impact statements through a case study of victim-impact statements made by the survivors of Larry Nassar. Specifically, I will be using discourse analysis to examine approximately 10% of the victim-impact statements presented during Nassar’s hearings. I wanted to examine the statements from multiple perspectives to create a comprehensive understanding of the rhetoric used by a particular group of survivors. I argue that while the Nassar survivors’ rhetoric is consistent with the rhetoric of other sexual abuse victims, their distinctive situation gives way to rhetorical techniques unique to the hundreds of victims of Nassar. In conclusion, this project, by closely examining a limited number of victim-impact statements provided by sexual abuse surviors of Nassar at his court hearings, provides a more in-depth understanding of the rhetoric used by sexual abuse victims.