By Alex Rusek, The Army of Survivors Board Member
It is hard to believe that four years ago I was given the opportunity and honor to work with an inspiring group of survivors to help found The Army of Survivors. Born out of the heinous acts of a serial perpetrator of sexual abuse and those that enabled his abuse for decades, The Army of Survivors has seen amazing growth and made great strides towards accomplishing its goals of raising awareness about and preventing future abuse in sports.
The Army of Survivors is a unique organization in many ways, but the fact that it is survivor-founded and survivor-led stands out above all else to me personally. While many nonprofits aim to support and uplift their target communities, The Army of Survivors truly gives a voice to survivors in both its mission and leadership by incorporating diversity, equity, and inclusion and trauma-informed principles in its daily operations and long-term policies.
From hosting survivor speak out events to documentary screenings and discussions, participating in international forums and research projects, developing comprehensive curriculums for youth sport coaches, providing resources for survivors in crisis, and by advocating for legislative change across the nation, The Army of Survivors has led the fight against abuse in sports both nationally and internationally during its first four years of existence. It has also seen amazing growth and expanded by hiring a dedicated team that has decades of experience supporting survivors.
As inspiring as the last four years have been, I cannot help but look forward to the next four years and beyond for The Army of Survivors with pride and hope. Be on the lookout for our continued work developing and implementing the Compassionate Coach program (an 8-week trauma-informed certification program for coaches working with youth athletes), participation in the Keep Kids Safe movement, advocacy at the state and federal levels for legislation that will protect athletes and hold perpetrators and enablers of sexual abuse accountable, participation with the International Olympic Committee and Global Movement to End Sexual Violence Against Children and Adolescents (and many others), and the release of new and updated resources for survivors.
The Army of Survivors’ work is far from done. But it can only be continued with the generous support of our friends, families, and communities. Please visit thearmyofsurvivors.org to learn more about the impact that The Army of Survivors is making and please consider pledging your financial support to ensure that the powerful advocacy of survivors will be able to continue for years to come.
Alexander S. Rusek is the founder of Rusek Law PLLC in Lansing, Michigan and a Board Director for The Army of Survivors, Inc. Mr. Rusek’s legal practice focuses on complex mass action and class action civil litigation, business law & litigation, criminal law, and appellate law. Mr. Rusek has represented established businesses, new businesses, non-profits, professionals, and individuals involved in multi-party, mass action, and class action litigation, including representing over 100 survivors of sexual assault in the Michigan State University/Larry Nassar and University of Michigan/Robert Anderson litigations.