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A weekly look at creativity, arts, and culture in southwest Michigan, hosted by Zinta Aistars.Fridays in Morning Edition at 7:50am and at 4:20pm during All Things Considered.

Art Beat: What Is A Girl Worth?

Carlos Osorio
AP Photo

We’ve all heard her name —and his: Rachael Denhollander, the first survivor to expose serial sexual abuser Larry Nassar. Her voice allowed 156 women to be heard at Nassar’s trial in January 2018.

Denhollander speaks again, this time in her memoir, What Is a Girl Worth?: My Story of Breaking the Silence and Exposing the Truth About Larry Nassar and USA Gymnastics (Tyndale Momentum, 2019).

A conversation with Rachael Denhollander

“It was quite a process to decide to write the book,” Denhollander says. “It was a difficult process, with the case in the media for a couple years all the time. But I really felt like there was so much people needed to know and understand, and honestly, such an incredible story to be told. It’s a story of how you take control from two major organizations that were shielding an abuser. It’s the story of a team that came together at just the right time, all the factors that had to be in place, all the evidence that had to be found, the way the story had to be put together, the prosecution, the investigation, all of it. It’s an incredible story of triumph.”

Credit Tyndale Momentum
Tyndale Momentum

In her memoir, Denhollander writes about how the abuse began and was hidden from her mother, why she kept her painful secret to herself for so many years, and why she finally was inspired to speak up — for herself and others.

“One of the first things we need to understand is that abuse so often doesn’t look like you think it’s going to look,” Denhollander says. “We have a lot of preconceived notions about what sexual abuse looks like - the guy in a trench coat in a van with no windows. It’s the guy who is creepy, it’s the social misfit. But that’s not usually who an abuser is. More often than not an abuser is someone you know, and they are highly skilled manipulators.”

To help girls in their growing years learn how to handle abusers who cross their paths, Denhollander has also written a children’s book that's also titled, How Much Is a Little Girl Worth? The book primarily teaches girls understand their innate value and that no one can either take it away from them or grant it to them.

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.” She was also 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 Heart Ambassador’s “Lifetime Achievement Award for Contributing to Social Justice.”

Denhollander holds a law degree Oak Brook College of Law and an honorary doctorate from the American University of Paris. She and husband Jacob live in Louisville, Kentucky, with their four young children.

Listen to WMUK's Art Beat every Friday at 7:50 a.m. and 4:20 p.m.

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Zinta Aistars is our resident book expert. She started interviewing authors and artists for our Arts & More program in 2011.
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