Out of decades of trauma, TAOS was born

By Danielle Moore

I still remember the very first meeting of what was yet to be called The Army of Survivors (TAOS). A group of us were in Washington DC to have a presence at Michigan State University Interim President John Engler’s hearings in front of a special committee of Congress people. We were meeting because we weren’t seeing changes from MSU, USA Gymnastics, or the U.S. Olympic Committee after the sentencing of Larry Nassar — we were actually seeing more resistance to change. We all gathered at The Hay-Adams hotel bar called Off the Record; I later learned that the hotel was frequented by politicians and staffers, and had housed Washington’s most elite. In fact, I saw Helen Hunt in the lobby and got extremely excited. However, the other survivors who were 11+ years my junior did not know Helen Hunt and the show “Mad About You.” This was a harsh realization of the decades of trauma from sexual abuse that Nassar caused. He hurt generations of women and girls, while being enabled by institutions that still did not want to change.

Fast forward to four years later and we have frequent meetings with staffers and Congress people — maybe the same ones that visited Off the Record — to try and change laws on how abuse is reported within sports. In just four years, we have accomplished so much since our first meeting. At The Army of Survivors, we provide an abundance of resources on our webpage, have spoken at national and international conferences, host Survivor Speak out events, serve on many coalitions with similar missions, develop programming to stop abuse at the roots, and much more.

However, what fuels my soul and what I am most proud of are the individuals we help. We have survivors, survivors’ parents, and organizations that will send a quick message explaining how TAOS helped them, gave them courage, provided motivation to keep moving forward, or inspired them to report their abuser to authorities. This shows that we are reaching individuals and change is happening.

I am more proud of being part of TAOS than any other organization I have been a part of. TAOS was not only needed in 2016 when Nassar’s abuse became public, but it was needed decades before. We are now trying to fill that large gap where the specific needs of athlete survivors are addressed and the prevention of sexual abuse is obtainable. In five to 10 years, I hope TAOS is a household name among athletes or athletes’ caregivers. This would mean prevention of abuse is an active discussion, training is widely available for coaches and institutions, athletes are educated on their rights and are not fearful to come forward, and if abuse happens the athlete’ feel supported not only by their teammates and family but also the institutions in which the abuse occurred.

Dr. Danielle Moore is the board secretary and a founding member of The Army of Survivors. She currently works as an adjunct professor for The Chicago School of Professional Psychology’s Criminology department. Dr. Moore completed her Doctorate in Clinical and Forensic Psychology at the Illinois School of Professional Psychology (ISPP), Master’s degrees in Clinical Psychology at ISPP, Master’s degree in forensic psychology at the University of North Dakota, and her undergraduate degree in psychology at Central Michigan University.