‘At the Heart of Gold’: What Survivors Learned About Abuse from Being in the Documentary

At the Heart of Gold: Inside The USA Gymnastics Scandal covers the scandal of national team doctor Larry Nassar sexually abusing young athletes and the cover-up that allowed it to happen for decades. Many survivors who gave statements during Nassar’s case participated in the documentary to tell more of their stories.

The Cheat Sheet talked to survivors Trinea Gonczar and Amanda Thomashow during the At the Heart of Gold: Inside The USA Gymnastics Scandal world premiere on April 25 at the Tribeca Film Festival. This is what they had to say about their decision to participate in the documentary and what they learned from it.

Amanda Thomashow learned there is no reason to be ashamed

Trinea Gonczar and Amanda Thomashow
Trinea Gonczar and Amanda Thomashow speak during the premiere of “At The Heart Of Gold: Inside the USA Olympics Scandal,” | Noam Galai/Getty Images for Foundation for Global Sports Development

Many survivors who gave their statement were approached to participate in the documentary. Amanda Thomashow, who was the first to file a Title IX complaint against Larry Nassar, was one. However, she was hesitant to say yes at first.

“For me, I was mostly worried about what would our stories be used for,” Thomashow told The Cheat Sheet. “Why did they want to speak with us? And after speaking with [director] Erin [Lee Carr] for a while I realized that they really wanted to educate the public about what happened to us and talk about how institutions can be held accountable.”

She continued, “How institutions are able to enable predators and how do we move forward, show other survivors that they are not alone. And I thought it was a great educational opportunity for the country.”

There are many feelings one can have after surviving sexual abuse. Thomashow talked about one common feeling and confronting that.

“For me, I guess what I learned is that this happens so often but there’s no reason to be ashamed of what has happened to you,” said Thomashow. “And this process has taught me to trust my gut and to believe in myself and to believe survivors.”

Trinea Gonczar learned most serial predators are someone you know

Trinea Gonczar is another survivor who gave a statement at Nassar’s sentencing. She spoke about why she decided to talk more in the documentary.

“I really wanted survivors out there to know that you’re not alone if this has happened to you and that we’ve been there and we understand how difficult it is but we also support you,” Gonczar told The Cheat Sheet.

She also revealed an important lesson she learned is “That actually most serial predators are somebody that you know and they’re not going to always be that white van that’s driving through your neighborhood that you suspect. So just be mindful [of] who’s in your life.”

The new HBO documentary, At the Heart of Gold: Inside The USA Gymnastics Scandal sharing the survivors’ stories and more airs on May 3.

Read more: HBO’s ‘Case Against Adnan Syed’ Is as Addictive as ‘Serial’

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