Cardiff University | Prifysgol Caerdydd ORCA
Online Research @ Cardiff 
WelshClear Cookie - decide language by browser settings

The language of harm: what the Nassar victim impact statements reveal about abuse and accountability

Abrams, Jamie R. and Potts, Amanda ORCID: 2020. The language of harm: what the Nassar victim impact statements reveal about abuse and accountability. University of Pittsburgh Law Review 82 (1) , pp. 71-134. 10.5195/lawreview.2020.775

[thumbnail of AbramsPottsNassar.pdf]
PDF - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

Download (611kB) | Preview


This Article examines 148 Victim Impact Statements that were delivered to the court in the Larry Nassar criminal sentencing. Larry Nassar was a doctor for the United States Gymnastics Association and an employee of Michigan State University who treated elite athletes, predominantly gymnasts. Nassar pleaded guilty to child pornography and first-degree criminal sexual misconduct charges in Michigan. His sentencing received worldwide attention as victims delivered impact statements describing the harm and betrayal of his conduct. Using corpus-based discourse analysis, this Article examines the complex strategies that the victims deployed to describe who Nassar was (a doctor, a monster, a friend), what he did (abuse, assault, pedophilia, “treatments”), and the harms that they suffered (pain, hurt, betrayal). It concludes by recommending more robust and holistic approaches to the naming and framing of sexual assault, more proactive policy uses of Victim Impact Statements in shaping systemic reforms, and greater law reforms to prevent systemic institutional sexual assault.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: English, Communication and Philosophy
Subjects: K Law > K Law (General)
P Language and Literature > PE English
Additional Information: This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Publisher: University of Pittsburgh
ISSN: 0041-9915
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 3 March 2021
Date of Acceptance: 8 November 2020
Last Modified: 03 May 2023 17:23

Actions (repository staff only)

Edit Item Edit Item


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics