Nassar abuse survivor and family healing together

Posted at 9:53 PM, May 07, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-07 23:56:13-04

East Lansing, Mich.  -- Calls for accountability and change are still ringing on the campus of Michigan State University months after Larry Nassar learned he'll spend the rest of his life behind bars.

But that's only one side of the fallout; survivors and their families are still confronting the impact of this abuse at home.

Larissa Boyce relied on her family this past January when she confronted Larry Nassar in court, but as the abuse was happening, Boyce’s relationship with her once close-knit family became strained.

Boyce said, “I was definitely very angry and I took that anger out on my family too, especially my dad.”

About 6 months into a cycle of Larry Nassar's abuse, Boyce gave up the sport that defined her.

She said, “It was almost my identity. I didn’t know what to do after that, I mean it took up so many hours after school, practicing 20-25 hours a week and then going to 2 hours of track you know, for a small season, I didn’t know what to do.”

Boyce, like many gymnasts, started the sport when she was 5 years old. Her parents, William and Barb Michell said their little girl was a natural.

“She had a lot of spunk and was very active. She was just this little thing and it seemed like a good fit.”

Even the Spartan Youth Gymnastics and then, MSU head coach, Kathie Klages, had high hopes for Boyce, saying Larissa was capable of competing for the Spartans one day. Then Boyce’s parent’s said the tone changed.

“She said, ‘Larissa seems to have this problem, she’s attention-seeking’,” said William Michell, “She didn’t tell me what that meant, but ‘We have a lot of good hopes for her, we really want to see her succeed here.’ Putting it all together now, I realize she didn’t tell me what was going on with Nassar, but was aware of it.”

That change in tone, coming around the same time Boyce said she came forward to Klages about the abuse.

It’s continued guilt for her mother, who tells FOX 17 she missed the clues, while coping with illness of her own at the time.

Barb Michell said, “I was in bed at the time with chronic migraines, some days I couldn’t get out of bed and I’m thinking, well that’s why she never wanted to tell us, she didn’t want to put more on us at the time.”

Instead, the Michells say their daughter took to writing in a journal, which they only found just recently. It was filled with negative, dark, and hopeless thoughts that just didn’t seem to fit.

Boyce’s husband, Adam, said that darkness emerged in 2016 when abuse allegations involving Nassar went public.

“She was in bed a lot, couldn’t function, constantly crying, couldn’t sleep, and it was a really stressful time. It was pretty awful.”

Knowing what they know now, the Michells struggle with the "what if.”

William Michell said, “You just keep thinking, where was I? How did I not get this, how did I not figure this out? And to realize had they listened to her, 98 percent of all of this would have not happened.”

Looking back, they said they wished they would have had a conversation about inappropriate touching and abuse with their kids.

“I think that would have prevented this with our daughter,” said William.

It’s a conversation the Boyces are now invested in having with their own children.

Adam Boyce said, “We still have to be cautious and we have to make sure we ask our kids the right questions, we need to be intentional with our children. If they ever feel uncomfortable they can always, always talk to Mommy or Daddy. It has made me much more aware of who a predator could be and the grooming process.”