Rachael Denhollander headshot

Rachael Denhollander

Lawyer & Sexual Abuse Activist

Rachael Denhollander was only 15 when Larry Nassar sexually abused her. Sixteen years later, she was the first woman to press criminal charges and publicly reveal that she had been one of the many victims of the USA Gymnastics team doctor. The decision to speak out ultimately led her to lose friends, her church community, and her privacy. Yet in so doing, she sparked a tidal wave of accusations against Nassar, revealing the appalling extent of his abuse. Now she educates and advocates, illuminating not only issues of abuse, but also the very cultural dynamics that allow abusers to remain in power. Weaving in details of her personal story, she shows how to come alongside survivors, stand against abuse, and find healing. Trained as an attorney and with considerable background in legislative and policy reform, Rachael is able to speak not only on the experience of being a survivor of abuse, but also to positively advocate for change. Armed with courage and conviction, she inspires audiences as she continues to advocate, call for accountability, and stand for those who have yet to find their voice.

BIO

Rachael Denhollander is an attorney, advocate, and educator who became known internationally as the first woman to file a police report and speak publicly against USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar, one of the most prolific sexual abusers in recorded history. As a result of her activism, over 250 women came forward as survivors of Nassar’s abuse, leading to his life imprisonment. Additionally, her courageous tenacity and ongoing advocacy helped trigger a complete upheaval at both USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University, where former executives and high-ranking officials face numerous criminal charges for their complicity in covering up Nassar’s abuse and lying about what they knew.

For her work as an advocate and educator on sexual assault, Rachael was named one of TIME Magazine’s “100 Most Influential People in the World” and one of Glamour Magazine’s “Women of the Year” in 2018. Additionally, she received the “Inspiration of the Year” award from Sports Illustrated, was a joint recipient of ESPN’s “Arthur Ashe Courage Award,” and was named a “Michiganian of the Year” by The Detroit News. She is the recipient of numerous other awards and recommendations, including the “CHILD Protector Award” from CHILD USA, the “Integrity and Impact Award” from Dow Jones Sports Intelligence, and HeartAmbassador’s “Lifetime Achievement Award for Contributing to Social Justice.”

Rachael documented her journey with the release of What is a Girl Worth? My Story of Breaking the Silence and Exposing the Truth about Larry Nassar and USA Gymnastics on September 10, 2019.

Rachael has been recognized and honored in both the Kentucky and Michigan legislatures for her advocacy, and has been active in spearheading legislative reform at the state level. She has lectured and participated in live Q&A’s on the campus of numerous universities across the nation, including Harvard, Stanford, Princeton, NYU, UC Berkeley, USC, and others. She continues to educate on issues of abuse through supporting and speaking at organizations that advocate for victims of sexual and domestic abuse, teaching at abuse prevention conferences, and helping companies and other institutions create safe environments for addressing abuse and harassment. A committed Christian, Rachael has also been at the forefront of condemning the problem of abuse that often plagues churches and religious organizations while working to address the underlying dynamics. Additionally, she was a panelist with a United Nations Peace Messenger Organization at the UN’s 62nd Commission on the Status of Women.

A member of the California Bar Association, Rachael has educated attorneys on the dynamics of sexual abuse at the American Bar Association’s Sports Law Forum, and was the commencement speaker at the graduation ceremony of Brandeis School of Law in Louisville, KY.

Prior to beginning her work as an advocate and educator, she worked in public policy, performed research and writing for human rights organizations, and spoke in a variety of capacities, including testifying before state judiciary committees. She has also taught in legislative action days, and authored and taught a summer camp course on appellate advocacy and judicial philosophy to talented high school students.

She has appeared on CNN, ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX News, BBC, NPR and regularly appears in national and international print media, including The Washington Post, Der Spiegel, The Wall Street Journal, and the Associated Press, and is a New York Times and Vox op-ed contributor.

Rachael holds a Juris Doctorate from Oak Brook College of Law and possesses an honorary doctorate from the American University of Paris.

She, along with her husband Jacob, lives in Louisville, Kentucky with their four young children.

Rachael Denhollander is an attorney, advocate, and educator who became known internationally as the first woman to file a police report and speak publicly against USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar, one of the most prolific sexual abusers in recorded history. As a result of her activism, over 250 women came forward as survivors of Nassar’s abuse, leading to his life imprisonment. Additionally, her courageous tenacity and ongoing advocacy helped trigger a complete upheaval at both USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University, where former executives and high-ranking officials face numerous criminal charges for their complicity in covering up Nassar’s abuse and lying about what they knew.

For her work as an advocate and educator on sexual assault, Rachael was named one of TIME Magazine’s “100 Most Influential People in the World” and one of Glamour Magazine’s “Women of the Year” in 2018. Additionally, she received the “Inspiration of the Year” award from Sports Illustrated, was a joint recipient of ESPN’s “Arthur Ashe Courage Award,” and was named a “Michiganian of the Year” by The Detroit News. She is the recipient of numerous other awards and recommendations, including the “CHILD Protector Award” from CHILD USA, the “Integrity and Impact Award” from Dow Jones Sports Intelligence, and HeartAmbassador’s “Lifetime Achievement Award for Contributing to Social Justice.”

Rachael documented her journey with the release of What is a Girl Worth? My Story of Breaking the Silence and Exposing the Truth about Larry Nassar and USA Gymnastics on September 10, 2019.

Rachael has been recognized and honored in both the Kentucky and Michigan legislatures for her advocacy, and has been active in spearheading legislative reform at the state level. She has lectured and participated in live Q&A’s on the campus of numerous universities across the nation, including Harvard, Stanford, Princeton, NYU, UC Berkeley, USC, and others. She continues to educate on issues of abuse through supporting and speaking at organizations that advocate for victims of sexual and domestic abuse, teaching at abuse prevention conferences, and helping companies and other institutions create safe environments for addressing abuse and harassment. A committed Christian, Rachael has also been at the forefront of condemning the problem of abuse that often plagues churches and religious organizations while working to address the underlying dynamics. Additionally, she was a panelist with a United Nations Peace Messenger Organization at the UN’s 62nd Commission on the Status of Women.

A member of the California Bar Association, Rachael has educated attorneys on the dynamics of sexual abuse at the American Bar Association’s Sports Law Forum, and was the commencement speaker at the graduation ceremony of Brandeis School of Law in Louisville, KY.

Prior to beginning her work as an advocate and educator, she worked in public policy, performed research and writing for human rights organizations, and spoke in a variety of capacities, including testifying before state judiciary committees. She has also taught in legislative action days, and authored and taught a summer camp course on appellate advocacy and judicial philosophy to talented high school students.

She has appeared on CNN, ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX News, BBC, NPR and regularly appears in national and international print media, including The Washington Post, Der Spiegel, The Wall Street Journal, and the Associated Press, and is a New York Times and Vox op-ed contributor.

Rachael holds a Juris Doctorate from Oak Brook College of Law and possesses an honorary doctorate from the American University of Paris.

She, along with her husband Jacob, lives in Louisville, Kentucky with their four young children.

"You started the tidal wave. You made all of this happen. You made all of these voices matter. Your sister survivors and I thank you. You are the bravest person I have ever had in my courtroom."

Judge Rosemarie Aquilina

SPEECH TOPICS

What is a Girl Worth? Breaking the Silence and Exposing the Truth

Books & Media
What is a Girl Worth? My Story of Breaking the Silence and Exposing the Truth about Larry Nassar and USA Gymnastics by Rachael Denhollander