The most talented sports people were honoured at the ESPY Awards today, but one truly powerful and emotional moment came when the survivors of sexual abuse by former US gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar were presented with the Arthur Ashe Courage Award.

Over 260 women filed lawsuits against Nassar, claiming he had sexually abused them under the facade of giving medical treatment. Many of them were underage at the time the incidents occurred. Earlier this year he was convicted and sentenced to 175 years in prison after pleading guilty.

In a huge display of courage, 141 of these survivors stood hand-in-hand on stage after a standing ovation to accept the award in recognition of their bravery for making their voices heard.

Olympic gold medalist Aly Raisman, as well as former gymnast Sarah Klein, and softball player Tiffany Thomas Lopez opened up on the harrowing experience of having being ignored when they reported their own abuse at Nassar’s hands.

1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2004, 2011, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016. These were the years we spoke up about Larry Nassar’s abuse. All those years we were told ‘You are wrong. You misunderstood. He’s a doctor. It’s OK. Don’t worry we’ve got it covered’,” said Raisman, “If just one adult had listened, believed and acted, the people standing before you on this stage would have never have met him.

If we choose to listen and we choose to act with empathy, we can draw strength from each other,” U.S. gymnast Aly Raisman said. “We may suffer alone, but we survive together.

Speaking up and speaking out is not easy. Telling our stories of abuse over and over and over again, in graphic detail, is not easy,” explained Klein “We’re sacrificing privacy and being judged and scrutinized, and it is painful, but it is time.

While Lopez emplored listeners to stop avoiding uncomfortable conversations.

There are a lot of conversations in our society that we tiptoe around as if they’re something to avoid…Tonight we stand here and it feels like we’re finally winning.

Image: Getty Images / [Kevin Mazur]