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Abused: Surviving Sexual Assault and a Toxic Gymnastics Culture

3.61  ·  Rating details ·  201 ratings  ·  32 reviews
Two-year-old Rachel Haines didnt know that she would be committing to twenty-one years of hard work, dedication, and perseverance as she jumped into the foam pit during her first mommy and me gymnastics class. She had no idea that one day she would become a two-time National Team Member, two-time National Champion, and a Division I college gymnast at the University of ...more
ebook, 144 pages
Published April 12th 2019 by Rowman & Littlefield Publishers
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Average rating 3.61  · 
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May 06, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I feel bad for writing this, but Haines' Abused was kind of lackluster at first. The initial 100 pages felt like one gymnastics competition after another (although it does spotlight just how involving this sport is for teens) and the 'toxic gymnastics culture' of the subtitle does not quite seem apparent.

But when Haines (a.k.a Survivor 195 in court proceedings against physician Larry Nasser) documents her major surgery / recovery from an ignored - courtesy of Nasser - injury, and includes her
Feb 17, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
Note: I'm using the GoodReads star rankings (2 equals "okay") and this review is based on a free ARC I received from NetGalley.

I've always imagined writing to an extent like baking: there are times when you just know your work is technically done but not quite ready. In the case of "Abused," this is a book more like wine--I have a feeling it would have been stronger with a bit more time to develop.

What's good: This is elite gymnast Rachel Haines' effort to understand the abuse she suffered at
One of several recent books that address Nasser's abuse (others including Fierce and What Is a Girl Worth?, and I expect more will follow). Haines is much more direct about it than Raisman was (I got the distinct impression in Fierce that Raisman hadn't planned to mention it at all, but the book was in production when the scandal broke and it would have felt like too big an omission to ignore): this is not a book about good things with some struggles along the way; it is not the sort of book ...more
Amy Erickson
Jun 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An Honest Look at Abuse and Culture

Rachel takes an honest and raw look at the gymnastics culture of pressure and abuse and how it negatively impacted her. She also praises the lessons she learned from being a top notch athlete. Overall this book is a quick, fascinating, heartbreaking, yet hopeful read.
I had downloaded this book quite some time ago, not realizing that it was also written by a gymnast who was abused by Larry Nassar. I recently read Rachel DenHollander's memoir on the same topic, so I was interested to see how the two compared. This story was equally as powerful and heartbreaking - but didn't have quite the same caliber of storytelling and writing as Denhollander's. It definitely focused more on the gymnastics side of things as well - which was very interesting for me to read.
Feb 07, 2020 rated it liked it
I feel bad for rating this book only 3 stars, while I appreciated Haines for writing her story as difficult as it was I felt there was more missing. It left a lot to be desired.
Jun 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Rachel switched her power and determination from the gym to the written word. Writing this book was not only a method of healing for her, but also a way to answer for the reader, "How could this have happened?" Thank you for sharing your story, Rachel.
Amanda (Books, Life and Everything Nice)
Thank you to NetGalley, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, and Rachel Haines for an ARC ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me.

My rating is 4.5 stars, but since there aren't half stars I always round up.

- She was able to speak her truth and current perspective of John Geddert. She enjoyed having him as a coach. Many other people have spoken out against his abusive coaching techniques, which I absolutely believe. But the problems of the sport of gymnastics are not one
Laura Eggen
Dec 20, 2019 rated it liked it
I admire Rachel's bravery in so openly sharing her story, and commend her for her honesty. It is apparent that she had an extremely unhealthy relationship with the sport that would claim 20 years of her life, to the point that it became her only source of identity. However, in the latter half of the book she emphasizes her growth and how she has been able to distance herself from the sport enough to reclaim her sense of self. She speaks of how this book was her way of gaining "closure" and ...more
Jun 17, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: net-galley
I'm a huge fan of gymnastics, and always looking for a good tell-all memoir. Rachel Haines' story, particularly her brutal and intimate descriptions of both Larry Nassar's abuse and her complicated journey to admitting that she had been abused at all is powerful and important.
The rest of the memoir, for me, lacked some depth. I have the sense that perspective will help the author make better sense of her experience, but for me, it felt more like a generalized recapping of one meet after the next
Jun 18, 2019 rated it liked it
Its worth mentioning that this book is a gymnastics memoir far more than an abuse memoirthe two are inextricable from one another for her, to be sure, but the focus of 2/3 of the book is on her extreme (and problematic) attachment to achievement within the (toxic) gymnastics world. Theres also a distracting tendency in the first 20 or so pages to repeatedly answer the will you let your daughter do gymnastics? question over and over and over and with conflicting answers (and she doesnt *have* a ...more
Jun 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
You and your fellow gymnasts are truly brave women. This has got to be one of the most appalling and sickening things for our young girls and women to have experienced at the hands of a trusted and experienced professional. This was someone who preyed on young people entrusted to his care in the most vulnerable situations. It is horrendous to imagine that he got away with this behavior at such a high level and so intrusively for so long, but then to also have so many complicit adults surrounding ...more
Kyle Wendy Skultety (
Thanks to NetGalley for this ARC!

This story will grab you and not let you go until you reach the last word. It may even stay with you, with the atrocities and pressure that author Rachel Haines sustained buried deep in the back of your mind.

It is easy to think of gymnasts the same way we consider ballerinas: ethereal, feminine, able to perform superhuman feats of leaping and twisting that doesnt seem possible. However, the two fields possess a few more similarities that are not so desirable.
Thank you Rachel for sharing your story with us. I appreciate the honesty in this story. Some areas of her gymnastics career were positive, others extremely negative. While I find the sexual abuse sickening, I am even more disgusted that Larry Nassar approved and encouraged her to compete with the life threatening injuries she had sustained. I am so glad that he will not continue to be allowed to hurt anyone. I wish Rachel the best of luck throughout her continuing life journey.

*Thank you to
Rachel Haines is an incredible woman. She is so talented, courageous and survived so much. Unfortunately, I felt pretty disconnected from this story. There was too much telling, not enough showing. I wasn't able to develop a relationship with the narrator or any of the characters. In many cases, this felt like a news article with her being quoted. I didn't feel like part of the story or that I was living it with her. Unfortunately, I believe this writing style minimized the abuse that was done ...more
May 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
I have followed the Larry Nassar trial and the subsequent fallout within Gymnastics closely, despite being a new fan of the sport and someone who was never a gymnast myself. I really appreciated the author's introspectiveness about her own experiences and her framings of them both past and present. I feel like I have a clearer understanding of how it was possible Nassar was able to abuse so many people, and also a better understanding of the motivations that drive these elite athletes.
Nov 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019-reads
This book was a brave statement by Rachel. My daughter is in competitive gymnastics and I wanted to hear a story like this from a gymnast's perspective. We will be super careful with who we are around, but do believe Rachel that the structure, pressure, and most of the other stuff is helpful later in life as well. I will put zero pressure on my daughter to win, and if I see her stressing too much, I hope to let her know that giving her best effort is plenty.
Jamie Lee
A quick read

I heard of this book after listening to her story in the podcast Terrible, Thanks for Asking. No new info really from that episode. This book is not earth shattering, and Im not a fan of the italicized mental notes throughout but it does tell her story. It is a good, quick read though!
to me, it glossed over a lot. it was more about a broken spine than abuse. it is accurate to call it a survivor story because it's so much about enduring and continuing. the abuse got about 5% of the story.
Nov 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: finished, 2019
Haines brings the reader into the world of elite gymnastics. In doing so, it helps the reader have some understanding of how someone could abuse so many children for so long. The system itself helped an abuser do what he wanted. Haines' strength come through in her story.
Jul 26, 2019 rated it it was ok
This was a memoir about a girls time as a gymnast. There were a few mentions of Larry Nassar and words of encouragement. ...more
Jaclyn Goodfellow-Olmsted
Aug 21, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2019
Tough read from a survivor of the Larry Nassar abuse.
Jun 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What an all-encompassing book. Rachel bravely and gracefully shared her story with the world.
Jul 04, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another first hand experience with the problems of elite gymnastics. Very sad. She is amazingly strong.
Mar 13, 2020 rated it liked it
Not the best written book.
Jan 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audiobooks
So. Much. Pain.
So sad and upsetting how so
many young girls suffered for so many years
Jul 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Very quick and easy to read book. It gave an insight into the USAG and Larry Nassar case which is more serious than we know. Rachel is a survivor like many! Praise God.
Feb 19, 2019 rated it liked it
This book is all about Rachel's story of how she became a top gymnast and how her trainer
abused her. I found this book very sad to read not only because of what happened to rachel but also
because it took away her love of the sport of gymnastics. Which was a love and a talent that she developed at a very young age and it also made her fearful for her daughter. The book started out from when Rachel first started gymnastics and I really liked how she talked about her successes and her hard times
Amy Dorow
May 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
Insight on how manipulative Larry Nassar was and the lasting impact he has had on the gymnasts my heart goes out to the survivors ♥

(also watch HBO documentary At the Heart of Gold)
Jun 06, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
An inside. View of the world of competitive gymnastics told by Rachel Haines who spent 21 years fully dedicated to the sport. Through her memoir, we learn how toxic and hurtful her experiences were and also how Dr LarryNassau sexually abused her by doing internal manipulations that he told her would help with all her injuries.
Very eye opening and sad
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Goodreads Librari...: Incorrect title on hardcover edition page 3 17 Mar 09, 2019 12:30PM  

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