There’s a second early on in Aly Raisman’s new Lifetime documentary, Darkness to Mild, the place the previous gymnast sits down with #MeToo founder Tarana Burke. “We are able to’t reside in our trauma day by day and name that survival,” Burke tells her.

It struck Raisman, who has turn into a number one voice within the struggle to finish sexual abuse after coming ahead with allegations towards former Workforce USA physician Larry Nassar. When she testified to the Senate Judiciary Committee final week, Raisman made positive to put aside meal time along with her teammates who have been additionally testifying. Collectively, they made a pact: No speaking concerning the dangerous stuff. “Life is difficult,” Raisman tells ELLE.com. “You should keep in mind to have moments of pleasure, as a result of if you do not have that, it may be actually onerous to outlive.”

In Darkness to Mild (premiering September 24), the three-time Olympic gold medalist meets with survivors from all around the nation and hosts a roundtable with specialists from organizations like RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest Nationwide Community) and Darkness to Mild, a nonprofit that empowers adults to stop youngster sexual abuse.

Beneath, Raisman talks concerning the significance of those sorts of assist networks, the stress of talking up towards “individuals who have a variety of energy,” and the way she makes time for pleasure.

One main theme you discover in Darkness to Mild is the function assist networks play for survivors. The place did you discover your assist community?

Having a group and a assist system is so essential, it doesn’t matter what anybody goes by means of in life. I acknowledge not everybody has a assist system, however I feel it’s necessary for folks to not surrender till they discover one. It’s so useful. In life, there are such a lot of ups and downs. Having the assist of my teammates, but additionally understanding that they understand how I’m feeling and understanding that they’ve been by means of related issues is actually validating. It simply helps me really feel much less alone. Typically you don’t even must say something. You simply know that they perceive you and you are feeling validated by them. I really feel very fortunate to have that, as a result of I do know lots of people don’t really feel they’ve that.

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Final week you testified within the Senate Judiciary Committee listening to on the alleged mishandling of the FBI’s investigation into Larry Nassar. How did you put together for that?

It was totally different than something we’ve achieved earlier than, as a result of it’s a variety of stress to testify in entrance of senators when there’s so many cameras round and so many individuals watching. It’s actually onerous to organize a sworn statement once you solely have a sure period of time to talk. It’s so private, but additionally a lot greater than simply you. It’s additionally very uncomfortable to talk out towards the FBI. It was scary, as a result of they’re in such a place of energy. Any time you converse up, it’s actually onerous. However I feel it’s much more intimidating to talk up towards individuals who have a variety of energy. On the identical time, what motivates me is understanding that that is sadly a lot greater than the 4 of us, and there are such a lot of folks on the market which are struggling and struggling in silence. I really feel very lucky that we’re being heard, supported, and validated.

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Through the testimony you stated folks usually don’t understand how a lot ”experiencing a sort of abuse just isn’t one thing that one simply suffers within the second; it carries on with them generally for the remainder of their lives.” How do you stability being each an advocate and a survivor who remains to be on their therapeutic journey?

Once I converse up and even do an interview, it’s a variety of stress. I acknowledge that a variety of survivors don’t have the platform that I’ve. So it’s actually onerous, and I put a variety of stress on myself. However on the finish of the day, I attempt to concentrate on how lucky I’m to be heard and validated, as a result of I do know so many individuals don’t have that. However it’s very onerous. I’m making an attempt to determine methods to get to the purpose the place I don’t overdo it or really feel so triggered. It’s a piece in progress, and I feel the moments of being actually triggered is definitely how I study the place I must set higher boundaries. I’m studying as I’m going.

McKayla Maroney, Simone Biles, and Maggie Nichols additionally testified. Did you depend on one another for assist?

The night time earlier than the testimony, all of us had dinner along with our mothers. It had been so lengthy since we have been all collectively, so we stated, ‘Tomorrow goes to be so heavy, let’s simply take pleasure in dinner.’ Why set off ourselves if we’re simply going to be triggered once more the subsequent day? When you’ve this pit in your abdomen about one thing happening the subsequent day, making an attempt to have enjoyable is actually onerous, however I feel it’s necessary to present your self and your pals permission to not speak about one thing if you happen to don’t wish to. The morning of the testimony, we have been there for one another. We all know one another so nicely, so I really feel like I can inform how somebody’s doing by simply the look on their face. Simply understanding that we had one another’s backs meant every thing to us. After we testified, Angelina Jolie came to visit to say hello to us, which was actually form of her. To have that second within the day was a pleasant distraction.

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What does justice appear like to you?

We’ve been combating for accountability for years. I reported my abuse over six years in the past. It’s a lot greater than one abuser being put in jail. To ensure that us to consider in a safer future, we’ve got to know who knew what, and when. The individuals who wronged us should be held accountable to ensure that us to have these solutions. We have now to have an entire unbiased investigation of the FBI, USA Gymnastics , and U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee—and looking out on the interaction amongst all three of the organizations. With out that, there isn’t any justice. The individuals who allow abusers should be held accountable. It’s not simply an abuser that’s the issue. It’s the techniques and the those who allow it and permit it to occur.

It’s actually disappointing that we as survivors should hold reliving and telling our story time and again, hoping that individuals will hear and do the precise factor. Our society shouldn’t be arrange like that. It shouldn’t be on the survivor to should hold reliving their trauma to attempt to get folks to do the precise factor.

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How do you find time for self-care?

I acknowledge that tomorrow or this weekend, or perhaps a few weeks from now, it could be just a little bit more durable for me. I would really feel extra drained than normal, as a result of though these items is actually necessary, I’m human. It’s a really heavy topic to speak about, and it’s very private. So I give myself permission to loosen up and ensure I’m creating time for myself to simply relaxation. I discover my moments of pleasure hanging out with associates, my pet Milo, and my household. I take pleasure in enjoying tennis. I take pleasure in gardening, and going for hikes. Anytime I can unplug and really feel actually myself, and encompass myself with individuals who make me really feel like myself, it’s a fantastic factor.

This interview has been calmly edited and condensed for readability.

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