Aly Raisman attends the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue launch party at Magic Hour at Moxy NYC Times Square on Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018, in New York. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

Raisman feels empowered by posing for SI swimsuit issue

NEW YORK — Olympic gold-medal gymnast Aly Raisman is a survivor, and she’s got the word on her body to prove it. The six-time medallist poses with nothing more than that, and some other powerful words, in the 2018 Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue.

Raisman poses nude for the “In Her Own Words” portion of the swimsuit issue, except for a few phrases on her body, among them “Fierce,” “Trust Yourself,” and “Every Voice Matters.”

“From the moment that I saw the ‘In Her Own Words’ project, I knew I wanted to be a part of it. I was instantly thinking what words I could put on my body,” said Raisman on Wednesday night at Sports Illustrated’s party to celebrate the issue.

“I think it’s extremely important. I think it’s extremely powerful. We have to get to a point where everyone understands women do not need to be modest to be respected.”

The 23-year-old says she feels empowered these days. She was one of the gymnasts who spoke up about the sexual abuse of gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar and faced him in court last month when he was sentenced to decades in prison. Nassar was convicted after abusing hundreds of girls during his career as a doctor for USA Gymnastics and also at Michigan State University. He pleaded guilty to sexual abuse and child pornography charges.

Though her sentencing speech went viral and she was hailed for her strength, Raisman said it wasn’t easy to face him.

“I know I looked strong in the moment, but after I was a mess. I was sick. I didn’t feel good. I was exhausted. It felt like it took me weeks to recover,” she said. “It’s not easy at all and, you know, leading up to when I decided to share my story, I was stressed out, I was sick, I could barely work out. … It’s not easy for anyone to come forward,” Raisman said.

Raisman wants to try and prevent this kind of abuse in the future.

“Being abused is very confusing, and like myself, and some of my teammates, we weren’t sure it was happening to us,” she said. “I’m working on trying to figure out ways to educate children, help educate parents, so they can have a conversation with children, so hopefully the next generation does not have to say the words ‘me too.”’

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