On Tuesday night, Christine Blasey Ford made a rare public statement when she presented former gymnast Rachael Denhollander with Sports Illustrated’s Inspiration of the Year award.
In a previously recorded video, Ford spoke of her admiration for Denhollander, who in 2016 was the first woman to publicly share that Dr. Larry Nassar had sexually abused her, while she was a 15-year-old gymnast in Michigan.
“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. Her courage inspired others survivors to end their silence, and we all know the result,” Ford said in the video. She continued: “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. 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.”
During Nassar’s trial, Denhollander spoke of the cost of coming forward. “The cost, emotional and physical, to see this through has been greater than many would ever know,” Denhollander said during Nassar’s trial, according to the Washington Post. “I want you to understand why I made this choice, knowing full well what it was going to cost to get here and with very little hope of ever succeeding. I did it because it was right. No matter the cost, it was right. And the farthest I can run from what you have become is to daily choose what is right instead of what I want.”
As of November, Ford was still receiving death threats, had yet to return to her job as a university professor, and had been forced to move several times with her family. In a note dated November 21 on a GoFundMe page set up to help Ford defray the costs of hiring private security, Ford wrote that she was “grateful to have had the opportunity to fulfill my civic duty.” “Having done so,” she continued, “I am in awe of the many women and men who have written me to share similar life experiences, and now have bravely shared their experience with friends and family, many for the first time. I send you my heartfelt love and support.”