Categories: Art, Child Sexual Abuse Survivors, Home, Other, Our Perspective

Featuring brave testimonials from athletes at the center of the story, At the Heart of Gold: Inside the USA Gymnastics Scandal reveals a dangerous system that prioritized winning over everything else, including protecting young female athletes. 


At the Heart of Gold, a powerful documentary directed by Erin Lee Carr, documents the failings of the organizations and adults who chose to believe and protect Larry Nassar over the safety of the children in their care. The film premiered on HBO on May 3rd and was also screened at the Tribeca Film Festival.

At the Heart of Gold Trailer

Throughout the film, there are many powerful statements and shocking realities. Some of the examples in the film reinforce what we know about how abuse occurs. These lessons can help adults better understand opportunities that exist to protect children every day:

  • People who sexually abuse children are master manipulators who position themselves as the “nice guy”. It is usually someone known and trusted: “He was the positive guy. He snuck them food, gave them candy, let them borrow his cell phone…” “He was our friend…if he was doing this, it must be okay. He was the one guy who we trusted.”
  • Adults tend to believe adults. No one wants to accuse someone of sexual abuse and be wrong: “Adults prefer and protect adults. We say we protect children, but children are second class citizens…it’s so much easier to let go of a child’s needs…they’re protecting the adult’s livelihood. No one wants to destroy a successful adult’s life.”
  • Adults and organizations need to take risks and protect the children in their care, no matter the cost: “We demonize the Nassars and Sanduskys and they’ve done horrible things, but it’s the ones who covered it up that made it worse and create more victims.”
  • We need to do better, as adults, communities, and institutions: “Let it be a warning to us all, when adults in authority do not respond properly to disclosures of sexual assault, when institutions create a culture where a predator can flourish, unafraid, this is what it looks like.”

Along with other organizations, we partnered with HBO to provide resources and create a viewing guide for individuals to learn more about child sexual abuse prevention and to provide resources for survivors impacted by the film.

We encourage you to watch the documentary and discuss it with your family and friends, starting a discussion around this important topic. Talking about actions you can take is a step towards protecting the children in your community.

How to watch At the Heart of Gold: The documentary is available on HBO and can be streamed on HBO GO and HBO Now. Don’t have HBO? Sign-up for a free 7-day trial.

Darkness to Light has teamed up with US Champion Gymnast Aly Raisman to create the #FliptheSwitch Campaign, which call for all adults involved in youth sports to complete the child sexual abuse prevention training Stewards of Children®. Use Aly’s code FLIPTHESWITCH and access the training at no cost. Get started today!

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2 responses to “At the Heart of Gold

  1. “Can’t you see how busy I am. I have problems of my own. Ignore him”. That is what my mother told me when I told her about my brother. He was horrible. He was a predator and sought out all three female cousins and my sister. These aunts and uncles knew that he was touching us. They too, did nothing to help me. My sister never spoke up. Life continued and everyone just loved Johnny, thought he was the life of the party, charming, friendly. My father thought that he was wonderful, too. Still no one protected me. My mother protected Johnny until the day he died. My mother manipulatively ostracized me, my husband and three children from the family for nearly 35 years. She knew I would speak up. Outsiders thought I was a terrible daughter. I am 70 years old. The pain never stops.

  2. Hi Susan – thank you so much for sharing some of your story with us. I’m so sorry for everything you and your family have gone through and that no one stood up for you. Thank you for using your voice to help others! If you ever need to talk or chat, you can call 866-FOR-LIGHT or text LIGHT to 741741. Thank you!

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