Rachael Denhollander Book Signing in Grand Rapids Standing Room Only


GRAND RAPIDS, Michigan – It was a subdued West Michigan crowd that overflowed area parking lots for the Rachael Denhollander book signing Tuesday evening. Denhollander, whose testimony and victim impact statement against serial molester Larry Nassar went viral last year, launched two books earlier this month.

“We love her!” said Charles Schaner. “My daughter was assaulted by basketball players, and the university covered it up.” He and his wife came to support both Denhollander and their daughter.

Another couple came hoping to hear something that would help their daughter give evidence, so police would arrest her molester.

Adjunct Professor David Price and Dr. David Greydanus of Grace Christian University brought an entire class studying social justice.

“We’re interested in hearing her perspective, how she did forgive, although he still needs his punishment,” Price said. “In restorative justice we emphasize rehabilitation, retribution, restitution. That’s important for everyone involved – suspect, defendant, victim – so that there can be healing.”

Price, a State Police Officer, said most of the students are pursuing criminal justice careers. Attendance at the event was assigned to promote discussion.

One survivor of Nassar’s abuse stipulated that her name be withheld. She told The Michigan Star that she came to get the book and hear Denhollander in person in the belief that their stories will match.

A parent of one victim said that 75% of his coworkers had similar stories.

The event sold out at 250, according to Baker Book House staff.

“Speaking Truth”

Truth was a recurring theme during Denhollander’s question-and-answer period, which was standing room only. Hosts took attendee questions via text message.

One questioner wasn’t sure if a relationship was abusive, saying in person the individual seemed fine, but not always in communication on social media. Is abuse even possible if it is on social media?

Denhollander said that abuse can be physical, mental, and spiritual. Confusion is purposefully generated by abusers, who keep victims off balance with mixed messages about reality.

“You know the truth, inside,” Denhollander said. “That’s why you become confused when things an abuser says don’t agree. Find someone you can trust, and show them the messages. They can point out the truth to you.”

Asked what advice she would give her younger self, she said that she could not have known enough to avoid the abuse. “He assaulted me at the very first visit.”

“However, I do wish I had known to go to counseling sooner.” Instead, she journaled – which preserved details used in her book.

“I do wish I had read Revelation sooner,” she says. “Christ coming on the white horse, His robes stained with blood. That’s how much God cares about justice.”

As a child, I knew about how God felt about my sin. No one ever told me the truth about how much God cared about sin that was done to me. I needed to hear that.

What does she think causes the serial abuse at public universities like MSU, Penn State, Ohio State?

“People!” she replied, to laughter from the crowd.

“Institutions have something to protect, and sometimes that becomes more important to them than people,” she said, including churches. “We need to choose our authorities better, she said, to have people in charge who love people and what is right over money, power, and the institution.”

She also drew a sympathetic laugh about the hardest part of the book to write. “All of it?”

Her advice about involving children in sports? Talk to other parents, do background checks, screen carefully. Be there whenever your child is. Watch closely. Keep open channels of communication: make sure the child knows they can tell you the truth about anything, and that you will always love them no matter what.

“I loved my time at the gym,” she said. “Most of them are clean.”

For all victims, she advises counseling. “They can speak the truth you need into your situation.”

The Grand Rapids event was part of a nationwide book signing tour. What is a Girl Worth? is Denhollander’s memoir of her childhood in Kalamazoo and her role in bringing Larry Nassar to justice.

How Much is a Little Girl Worth? began as a poem to her children. Published by Tyndale Publishers, the books are available at bookstores and online.

– – –

Abigail Nobel is a reporter for The Michigan Star.




Related posts