What Is a Girl Worth?: My Story of Breaking the Silence and Exposing the Truth about Larry Nassar and USA Gymnastics

What Is a Girl Worth?: My Story of Breaking the Silence and Exposing the Truth about Larry Nassar and USA Gymnastics

by Rachael Denhollander


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Written by Rachael Denhollander, recipient of Sports Illustrated’s Inspiration of the Year Award and one of Time’s 100 Most Influential People (2018)

“Who is going to tell these little girls that what was done to them matters? That they are seen and valued, that they are not alone and they are not unprotected?”

Rachael Denhollander’s voice was heard around the world when she spoke out to end the most shocking US gymnastics scandal in history. The first victim to publicly accuse Larry Nassar, the former USA Gymnastics team doctor who sexually abused hundreds of young athletes, Rachael now reveals her full story for the first time. How did Nassar get away with it for so long? How did Rachael and the other survivors finally stop him and bring him to justice? And how can we protect the vulnerable in our own families, churches, and communities?

What Is a Girl Worth? is the inspiring true story of Rachael’s journey from an idealistic young gymnast to a strong and determined woman who found the courage to raise her voice against evil, even when she thought the world might not listen. In this crucial cultural moment of #metoo and #churchtoo, this deeply personal and compelling narrative shines a spotlight on the physical and emotional impact of abuse, why so many survivors are reluctant to speak out, what it means to be believed, the extraordinary power of faith and forgiveness, and how we can learn to do what’s right in the moments that matter most.

Published by Tyndale, this inspirational, empowering book is available in both hardcover and e-book editions.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781496441331
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers
Publication date: 09/10/2019
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 57,091
Product dimensions: 9.10(w) x 5.90(h) x 0.70(d)

Read an Excerpt



I have been asked that question more times than I can count. Sometimes it is motivated by a genuine desire to understand, and sometimes it's articulated like a weapon, casting doubt over whether my abuse even occurred. The truth is, I did say something sooner — many of us did. But as survivors of sexual assault will tell you, saying something is one thing. Being heard — and believed — is another.

Bullies and predators prey on the defenseless. They count on victims being unable to protect themselves. More important, they count on everyone else being too afraid to confront them. I hate injustice, but I hate silence and apathy in the face of injustice even more. Far too often, bullies' belief that no one will challenge them is both well-founded and devastating for the people they target. But it doesn't have to be this way.

I have always had a strong sense of justice and a desire to protect others. Once when I was around seven, my mom took me, my little brother, Joshua, and my little sister, Bethany, to McDonald's for a playdate with friends.

This particular restaurant had a play area with a ball pit, winding tubes, and a twisting slide guaranteed to administer a near-lethal static shock the moment you sat down and — by the time you reached the bottom — to turn even the tamest hair into a spot-on replica of Albert Einstein's.

The tunnels and ball pit were my favorite parts of the play area. So many adventures could be imagined amidst the plastic twisting labyrinth — so much "scope for imagination." (Anne of Green Gables meets Ronald McDonald?)

I was hard at work scoping out the plastic tunnels for enemy invaders when I saw it. Just below me, through one of the plastic windows covered in greasy fingerprints, I noticed a boy about my age kicking my brother and sister.

A fierce wave of emotion enveloped me. As the oldest and strongest, I knew what my job was — to protect those who couldn't protect themselves. I had known it from the moment my mom brought my baby brother home from the hospital when I was about two and a half. It was one of those moments that seems completely unremarkable, and yet to this day, it stands out in my memory.

My baby brother was brand-new, and the most amazing tiny person I could imagine. I wanted so badly to take care of Joshua that my mom let me "help" with diaper changes, explaining every step of the process. And it was a process. In 1987, cloth diapers weren't today's fancy preformed ones with snaps, pockets, and inserts. They were the old-fashioned kind that you had to fold and pin on with enormous safety pins. I remember as if it were yesterday my mom teaching me how to do it — showing me how to fold the cloth to make the correct shape, where the diaper should fall on the baby's little belly, and how to check the legs to make sure the diaper was fitting properly. Then she did something that was forever burned in my mind. She tucked her index and middle finger under the edges where the diaper met and said, "Always remember to put your fingers between the diaper and the baby, exactly where you are going to push the pin through. That way, if the pin slips and someone gets hurt, it's the mom and not the baby.

"The most important thing, Rachael," she had said, "is to keep the little ones safe." And my mom did that by sacrificing herself.

Then she outfitted me with my own set of cloth diapers and pins and let me practice on my Cabbage Patch doll. Every time I changed its diaper, I did it just as she'd shown me, folding it precisely, checking my doll's position on the diaper, and inspecting the leg openings. Then I'd put my fingers between the diaper and my doll, turn the fold over to make sure my fingers were in the right spot, take a deep breath, and push the pin through. And do you know what? I never once poked my doll. Of course, every time I practiced, I felt a twinge of concern that I'd jab my finger with that pin. But I just kept reminding myself, The most important thing is to protect the baby. That's my job.

Five years later at McDonald's, that instinct was every bit as strong.

That's my job.

I scrambled down the slide as fast as I could, not even trying to avoid the shock-inducing metal bolts, and ran over to the older boy. I reached my siblings in record time, and without hesitating, grabbed the bully's wrists. I pulled him away from my siblings and held my arms stiff to keep my body away from his swinging foot. He glared at me and tried to free his wrists, yelling for me to let go. I took a deep breath and quietly held on. I didn't strike back; I just felt fiercely protective and resolved. I made sure to look the boy squarely in the eyes as I spoke firmly and calmly.

"Stop. You're hurting them, and you're old enough to know better. If you try to hurt anyone again, I'll go find a grown-up."

He tried to fight back. I held on.

"Stop," I repeated. "You're old enough to know better."

Angrily he paused and then grunted a defiant "Fine."

My siblings were now out of reach, so I let go and the boy stomped away. My mom and the mother of our friends, who had looked up from their table outside the play area to see me holding the boy's wrists, made it to the door and popped their heads in.

"Is everything okay?" my mother called out.

I glanced over my shoulder at the boy, now sulking in the distance. "We're fine," I assured her.

We went back to playing, and I was filled with relief. My siblings weren't hurt. I'd done my job. I had used what I'd been given — my age, my strength, and my words — to protect them.

I knew what to do that day because I'd been explicitly taught that you always have a right to defend yourself and others. My parents even gave me specific guidelines for what speaking up should look like and had me practice, so if I ever did need to speak up, I would know exactly what to do and say.

"You always have a right to defend yourself and others," they had said, "but never ever lash out in anger. Don't become what you are fighting. Do only what is necessary to keep everyone safe."

In other words, my motivation needed to be love — not anger, not revenge — which meant doing only what was necessary to restrain without a desire to harm the other person.

They also taught me that often kids who act out are angry and hurting, so it was important to feel compassion for them too. They told me to tell bullies the truth and remind them that they could, and should, be better — that they were responsible for their choices. And they told me to seek the help of an authority figure rather than angrily mete out my own form of justice.

* * *

Given these early lessons from my parents — as well as the fact that I was incredibly stubborn and argumentative if I felt I was in the right — I don't think my mom and dad were surprised when, at age eight, I announced that I wanted to become an attorney someday so I could protect families and children. I drew up my first "contract" not long afterward.

I had determined one afternoon that my mother was spending too much time on the phone helping a friend through a crisis and not enough time helping me with my math homework. I vividly remember my frustration. I knew her discussions were important, but goodness, if she expected me to do my math, she had to hold up her end of the bargain! We simply had to have some concrete, definable boundaries in this household. So in exasperation, I found a piece of paper and a pencil and sat down to fix this problem. Righteous indignation burning within me, I drew up a contract. I outlined an agreement in which she would pledge to spend a specified, limited amount of time on the phone and a required amount of time helping me with my math. In exchange, I would complete my lessons. Then I drew two lines at the bottom — a place for each of us to sign — and brought it to her. I got my point across. In the future, my math lessons were completed in a timely manner, and my parents continued to opine that law was a natural career choice for me.

I was blessed to have parents who recognized that stubbornness, properly directed, becomes perseverance and determination. As my mom would often remind me, our greatest weaknesses are also often our greatest strengths — if we direct them properly. So rather than attempting to squelch this part of my personality, they taught me how to channel it and use it to my advantage. Most important, they taught me to check my motivations. Was I fighting for something because I just wanted to win — even if I was technically right — or was I fighting for something because I loved God and other people? If all I wanted was to be right and win, I would ultimately be motivated by arrogance, and I would be tempted to compromise, bend or twist facts, manipulate, and maybe even ignore parts of the truth. If I were motivated solely by the desire to triumph, my gifts could become dangerous to others, and ultimately, to myself. But the safeguard against this, they told me, was to be motivated instead by love.

Love would ensure a willingness to hear and see the truth, even if it meant admitting I was wrong. Love would ensure compassion even for those who did wrong, while still enabling fierce pursuit of the truth. To that end, I was given the tools for speaking up early and often, and I was given permission to use them.

So I did.

The idea many people want to cling to — that survivors just don't know how to speak up — simply isn't true. It's a notion we need to let go of and instead do a better job understanding what really keeps victims silent.

A common thread in the societal response to abuse is the argument "I'm not saying it was her fault; I'm just saying I'd have responded differently." It feels safer to believe abuse happens only to people who "let it." But this is in fact blaming the victim, because it implies that if victims had just responded differently, they could have stopped the abuse. This myth needs to be abandoned, and we need to make an effort to better understand why survivors don't speak up during, or even after, abuse.

The truth is, I had the tools I needed, and I knew how to use them from an early age. Yet when the time came, they were not enough to help me be heard and be believed.


Excerpted from "What Is a Girl Worth?"
by .
Copyright © 2019 Rachael Denhollander.
Excerpted by permission of Tyndale House Publishers.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

What People are Saying About This

Jennifer Sey

I was utterly inspired by Rachael even before reading her memoir. But reading the story behind the story further cements my belief that this woman is a hero in every sense of the word. The courage it took to come forward and bring Larry Nassar to justice is amplified by the struggle it took to get to that point. Her willingness to put herself in harm’s way to protect future generations drove her to speak out even when she thought the world might not hear her. This unflinching narrative, replete with the harrowing details of the impact of abuse and the traumatic emotional aftermath, is an act of bravery in and of itself.

Diane Langberg

Rachael’s account of her abuse shatters our certainties. A well-loved and protected child is abused by those assumed to be good. Hearing such stories makes us want to deceive ourselves. We want to look away and deny. Rachael teaches us clearly that deceit—not truth—is our enemy. The hard truth of her story brings light and hope. May we, like Rachael, have the courage to listen to the God of all truth as He teaches us through her words and her life.

Beth Moore

This is one of the most important books you’ll ever read.

Terry Crews

As men, we’re taught not to be afraid, not to ask for help, not to be victims. And so when abuse happens to us, we feel powerless to fight it. That’s my own story, but with God’s help, I've learned a better way. And through What Is a Girl Worth?, we can all learn how to walk together toward a safer, brighter future. Do not miss this incredible true story of Rachael Denhollander, the woman who stopped an abuser. She is a living example of grace and strength in the fight against evil, and I’m standing by her side.

Dominique Moceanu

Rachael Denhollander is a hero. She chose to speak her truth when it was painful, difficult, and certainly not the “comfortable” route to take. By doing so, she has played a significant role in making our beautiful sport safer and in protecting the livelihoods of countless child athletes. I will always stand beside her in solidarity and admiration, and I applaud her for taking the additional step of telling more of her story with this book. I know firsthand how challenging that can be, and I thank her for her courage.

Karen Swallow Prior

No two sexual abuse cases are exactly alike, yet Rachael Denhollander’s story reveals what they all have in common and the part we all can play in preventing abuse, defending the vulnerable, and pursuing justice. Sexual abuse does not take place only in dark alleys late at night. It occurs in brightly lit offices and in quiet church sanctuaries, in public spaces and in the privacy of homes. If you don’t understand how this can be, please read this book. If you know too well why this is, you have even more reason to read this book. Rachael writes with moral clarity grounded in biblical truth and love. What Is a Girl Worth? is a must-read for anyone who cares about protecting precious lives from predators and pursuing justice for those for whom we were too late.

Mark Alesia

Rachael Denhollander stared down evil and changed the world. Parts of her memoir are heartbreaking, but it is ultimately uplifting, a story of faith, courage, and love. Rachael has become known internationally, but this book goes so much deeper than anything that has been said about her. It is a riveting memoir.

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What Is a Girl Worth?: My Story of Breaking the Silence and Exposing the Truth about Larry Nassar and USA Gymnastics 4.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 59 reviews.
mississippimomreads 3 months ago
"Little girls don't stay little forever. They grow into strong women that return to destroy your world." - quote from What is a Girl Worth This book is a strong memoir from the woman who successfully pressed charges against the USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University doctor Larry Nassar. (Note that I said successfully because many other women had come before her to press charges and they were ultimately dismissed.) Rachael went on to be an attorney, and without her legal background and knowledge, I wonder if her case would have also been dismissed. Her tenacity and legal research helped to build the case against Dr. Nassar, which ultimately led to more athletes coming forward. Rachael was a young gymnast with a hip injury and although she was not on the Olympics team, she was a competitive gymnast in her hometown and when she became injured, it was recommended that she seek treatment with the Gymnastics Doctor of the Stars, Dr. Larry Nassar. It took her many years to come forward to press charges and to speak about her experiences...mostly because he was so notable and highly revered in the industry. As a result of her activism, more than 250 women came forward as survivor of Nassar's abuse. She was named one of Time magazine's 100 Most Influential People and received the Inspiration of the Year award from Sports Illustrated, and was a joint recipient of ESPN's Arthur Ashe Courage award. This is her story. I highly recommend it! Thank you to NetGalley and to Tyndale Momentum for an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Theron_St-John 6 months ago
The stories they share haunt my thoughts. The wounds they bear break my heart. The weight survivors of sexual abuse carry I cannot begin to imagine. Yet, while my heart has been affected, my mouth has remained closed. When I should have spoken up, I have remained silent. After reading What Is a Girl Worth? By Rachael Denhollander, this has to change. Rachael's Story Many will recognize the name of Rachael Denhollander as the one who broke the news to the Indianapolis Star of the sexual abuse that was done at the hands of Larry Nassar. In the span of 29 chapters covering over 300 pages, Rachael shares her courageous story as she recounts the trauma of being sexually abused and the determination to expose the truth about Larry Nassar and USA Gymnastics. She takes the first 12 chapters to recount the events leading up to her contacting the Indianapolis Star to expose Larry Nassar for who he really was. In the remaining chapters of the book, Rachael details the challenging process she faced in working with the hope the law and courts would convict Larry for his sexual abuse to countless girls over many years and to find justice in the end. A Personal and Powerful Account The book is a personal and powerful account of speaking up against the evil of sexual abuse and calling people and institutions to stand up for justice. Rachael opens up about the struggles she faced after being sexually abused, including wrestling with her Christian faith. She counsels readers on the issue of people not believing victims about their abuse and why some do not speak up sooner about their abuse. Hers is a voice both counselors and the abused need to hear. By highlighting her case with Larry Nassar, Rachael shows this is more than a personal problem in our culture; it is an institutional issue. Even with Larry sentenced and behind bars, USAG and MSU still have a ways to go to reform the way they recognize, report, and respond to sexual abuse. Moreover, as it does so throughout the whole book, Rachael’s courage calls out the church to be better on this issue. Sexual abuse is not only an evil done in gymnastics but in the church as well, as Rachael knows and shows. The church has too often been silent, speaking up in theory but remaining quiet when it is in their own backyard. They focus on grace and forgiveness to the neglect of justice. Because she loves the church and is convinced the gospel is the only sufficient answer for justice (Denhollander 100-101), Rachael believes strongly the church must care well for the abused. The power Rachael’s words carry call for people in general and institutions like the church to love and protect those who may not always be able to protect themselves. What Is a Girl Worth? My Story of Breaking the Silence and Exposing the Truth about Larry Nassar and USA Gymnastics by Rachael Denhollander is a personal and powerful story of Rachael’s courage to face evil and speak up for truth and justice. Yet, it is more than a book. It is a call to action. To fight against evil. To report what is right. To respond with care for the abused, seeking healing for the wounded, and loving well no matter what the cost. There is still work to do. Consider What is a Girl Worth? by Rachael Denhollander an invitation to listen well to the abused, to speak up for what is right, and to join the fight against sexual abuse. I received this book from Tyndale Momentum on behalf of the author in exchange for an honest review of the book.
RoseElliott 7 months ago
This book is incredibly powerful and incredibly needed. Rachel's writing is engaging and compelling. She gets deeply personal as she walks her readers through her story, from her childhood, to her abuse at the hands of Larry Nassar, to her brave fight for justice. I'll be sharing a more thorough review on my blog, but seriously, please read this book.
Eneevs 7 months ago
What is a girl worth? More than just the title of the book, this is the theme and question that is woven into every fiber of the book. From the first page to the last, you are presented over and over again with the dichotomy of people and institutions who do things right against those who cannot seem to do anything but wrong. Or, in other words, those who recognize and extend value and those who don't. Rachael's memoir is not for those who want to avoid the hard situations or who shy away from the dark side of the news. Though I suspect that most people who pick up this book will already be at least partially familiar with her and the other survivor's stories. In case you don't know, this book talks about sexual abuse in detail including not just the immediate horrors, but its long-lasting effects on victims and their families. This book also spends the majority of its time dealing with the arrest and ultimate conviction of Larry Nassar, one of the most prolific pedophiles and sexual abusers in US history. Along the way to that conviction, this book does not shy away from the mistakes, lies, or failures of individuals, institutions, or the legal system that allowed this abuse to continue for decades One of the things that Rachael has done so beautifully with this book is to explain not just by definition but also by example what she means by worth. Or, what it is to value something. She is consistently contrasting the faithful, sacrificial love of her family, her husband, and the church against the selfish desires of her abuser, institutions, coaches, and, unfortunately, the church. To understand her definition of worth and how it is expressed, Rachael walks you through not just her abuse, but also through her journals, her thoughts, and scripture that helped her. She pulls everything back to this source and asks the question, "What is good and what is evil?" From that point, she moves forward. What do we do with good? What do we do with evil? How is worth or value expressed? The reader soon finds out in her story that while love is the answer, it can often come with a price. That doing good with the right motives does not make you exempt from the loss of friends, family, and relationships. "Love is the motivation that will give joy and peace when doing the right thing is hard and hurts." On a personal note, sexual abuse is a topic about which I wish I could say it has never impacted me personally. Unfortunately, I can't say that. The feelings of anger, shame, guilt, and loss are real and raw. Rachael wasn't afraid to confront those feelings head-on. Also, while this memoir ends in partial resolution, it feels like nibbling on croutons while waiting for the gourmet dinner. But even here Rachael is helpful; God is good and he is just. His justice will be realized in time. We are simply called to love well and be faithful. "Success (isn't) defined by a result but by faithfulness." And what is success? "Always be motivated by love." I was given a copy of this book by the publisher. My review and opinions are my own.
Anonymous 7 months ago
This book really touched my heart. I too am a survivor of sexual abuse and Rachel Denhollander did a fantastic job shedding light on how hard it can be. We live in a world of cover-ups and after reading this book you can see how hard it is to drag these things out into the light. At the same time, you can really see what a big difference one person can make in the world. It is an enlightening book for people who have never had to deal with this situation in their own lives and it explains how people like Larry Nassar get away with things for so long. I would recommend this book to survivors, parents, and anyone who works with trauma victims. Rachel is an inspiration to all of us seeking justice!
Svatia Mueller 7 months ago
This book is full of rawness and truth. Rachael shares her story, starting with her background and continuing into the process of speaking up about her abuser Larry Nassar. It is a book that makes you feel things, and it should. No one should remain cold towards this issue and especially not after reading this book with all of it's details. Rachael points to the importance of doing what is right, no matter what the cost. Will you join that challenge? I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for a review. The review I wrote contains my own thoughts only about the book.
Amanda Urroz 7 months ago
Rachel writes with such clarity on an important topic, sexual abuse. It is a poorly understood issue in our culture today. It’s not an easy topic to read or think about but Rachel presents concise information that every person should read. Sexual abuse is prevalent and commonly mishandled. This book helps to shed light where communities, culture, and individuals need to inform themselves and take action to better help survivors and prevent the enabling of perpetrators. Please read this book. Then pass it along.
Anonymous 7 months ago
I stayed up later than I intended last night and finished "What is a Girl Worth?". I had followed the Nassar case after connecting with Jacob Denhollander on Twitter. He shared his wife’s story in the IndyStar article – a victim/survivor who had come forward to stop an evil man who had been abusing children for decades. As I read the articles and watched the news coverage, Rachael came across as so brave, strong, and capable. Her training as an attorney was evident in the clarity and power of her carefully chosen words. But her book reveals what was going on behind the scenes – Would anyone believe her and take this seriously? Was it too late to report? The internal turmoil and re-traumatization of having to retell her abuse. Turning her private journals over to Nassar’s defense team knowing that her abuser would be reading them himself. Waiting to be attacked personally by attempts to rip her reputation to shreds by powerful people in powerful organizations. Wondering if the case would be dismissed and her abuser allowed to continue unchecked. Fearing that this sacrifice was all in vain. This is what it costs a survivor to speak, and the cost is great. But it was counted and paid for the sake of justice and for the sake of all the little girls Larry Nassar abused. "What is a Girl Worth?" was hard to put down. My heart ached for Rachael when she struggled to make sense of what happened to her, when she doubted herself, and wrestled with her faith. As I read, there was times when I asked myself, “Where on earth did she get the courage and stamina to do this?” But I think the answer is by the grace and power of God and the love and support of her family. But Rachael has also had more than her fair share of friendly fire. In fact, she and Jacob were pretty much told to stop speaking and posting publicly about child abuse and the SGM situation because if differed from the position their current church leaders were taking. I literally sat in silence for a few minutes digesting that paragraph because I was stunned. What are people really choosing to protect? This is probably the most emotional book review I have ever written. But when it comes to child abuse, maybe we need a little more feeling because our hearts have grown calloused. There’s plenty of outrage for a host of things, but where is the righteous anger against this heinous sin? Perhaps it is because we don’t love the least of these as we should. Perhaps this reveals the state of our love for God. And I wonder what would happen in the church and beyond if we had a fraction of Rachael Denhollander's courage to count the cost and protect the vulnerable within our walls? I pray books like "What is a Girl Worth?" will educate but also challenge the complacency and coldness of our hearts. God have mercy on us.
Anonymous 7 months ago
I still don’t quite know how to put my thoughts of this book into words. Rachael’s story is unlike any other and it is one that everyone, male or female, needs to read. I commend her for her bravery to step out and confront a man for all his wrongdoings. This book is truly an inspiration for understanding the value of a women.
Anonymous 7 months ago
An important book from a crucial voice. Engaging, heartbreaking, and inspiring. A difficult read, for sure, but such an important one. I received an advance copy of the book from the publisher, but my opinion is my own.
Heidi Zwart 7 months ago
I devoured this book in two days (an advanced copy from the publisher). If we are going to stop women and girls from being abused, we have to understand the depth of the problem... and this book is the place to start. Abuse likes to hide. It's subtle. It's manipulative. And it's devastatingly evil. Nassar was all of these things. But darkness can't live in the light. It took one brave sole, one small spark, to empower others and ignite a flame so bright that darkness lost its foothold. While this is just one story, it's the story of far, far too many. Rachael's honesty, transparency, and bravery proves that sometimes one voice IS enough to build an army of light.
Carol Musser 7 months ago
The most inspiring and important book I have read this year!! If you only have time to read one book, this is a must read book for all of us! Rachael's bravery and love for those injured by Nassar is deeply personal and touching. She realistically describes a sick system that looked the other way, minimized the damage to these girls, and sadistically allowed Nassar to continue his practice and have free access to innocent, trusting girls. Rachael retells her story with guts and grit. She fearlessly faced personal attacks and discouragement along the way, but she would not be deterred. Rachael fought for every little girl's worth and value without concern of what the fight might cost her. This book is one of the very best I have read this year. It is a very important issue that every family, school, church or organization needs to be informed to protect the most vulnerable among us!
Anonymous 7 months ago
This book while difficult to get through at times, is an excellent read. It is an extremely important story, especially in the current cultural moment. Rachael tells her story with grace and discretion, but also without holding any details back about the horrendous deeds done by the perpetrator. Everyone should read this book. If you think sexual abuse does not affect you or those around you are simply wrong. Please take the time necessary to read and understand what abuse does and how to prevent it.
Clint Miller 7 months ago
A deeply moving memoir. Rachael’s book explores the costly fight to go after a sexual predator - especially one protected by a sterling reputation. Denhollander takes the reader through her thoughts throughout her experience, revealing personal and intimate details that bring us closer to her decision to pursue a righteous justice for her and her sister survivors. Please note for sensitive readers that there are details of sexual assault in the book. Publisher provided an advanced copy for review.
Lisa_Saruga 7 months ago
Rachael Denhollander's story is tragic, difficult, victorious, brutal, hopeful, infuriating . . . and oh so important! RAINN statistics say that only 5 out of 1,000 rapists are successfully indicted and incarcerated. "What is a Girl Worth" illustrates just how difficult it is for a victim of sexual abuse/assault to find justice. Rachael is so brave and gracious in confronting systematic problems within many churches and other institutions, while also showing that God is both loving and just. Her faith is strong, her story is powerful and I believe this book will change the world for many who read it. Her mission is not yet complete, but I am so grateful that she is part of the army that battles for the rights and dignity of "victims" - who are also REAL people. Rachael truly knows how to reveal light in the darkest of circumstances. Yes, Rachael. I accept the invitation to join in the work!
KellyDawn 7 months ago
This book is a must read for anyone interested in learning about how victims are impacted by abuse and how many victims are truly silenced in our society. It takes a village to protect a predator and it takes a hero, or often a village of heroes, to bring one down. Racheal Denhollander has been one of my hero’s since she came forward to bring down Larry Nassar. As a former gymnast, my heart shattered as I watched what became of the institutions managing the sport I loved. But watching her navigate her way to bring justice for so many women (just girls at the time of their assaults) and seeing her do it with Christian grace was truly inspirational. This book provides an even more in depth look at what she went through in order to protect another generation of gymnasts. I received an advanced copy of this book.
Anonymous 7 months ago
This book is incredible. I am so thankful for Rachael’s voice. Rachael asks the question culture should be asking everyday, “How much is a girl worth?” Everyday culture answers with “not much” but Rachael’s voice will be one that will ring out for generations to come saying, “everything, girls are worth everything.” She is one of the most critical voices of our age, may we listen. This book is honest, raw, and captivating. I carried it around with me all the time, so if I had even a spare minute, I could keep reading.
Anonymous 7 months ago
If you want to learn more about why victims of sexual abuse don't say anything or report to authorities, Rachael's story will give you insight. If you want to learn more about how sexual predators/abusers groom and even confuse their victims into thinking that this "might be normal" then Rachael's story will enlighten you. I was a national team coach for USA Gymnastics in the 90's and knew Larry Nassar. Just as Rachael was confused and shocked when Larry abused her, I too was confused and shocked when the stories of multiple victims came out. I knew Larry fairly well and he helped my athletes. Could this be true? YES! It's important to hear Rachael's story and to grasp how this happened. It's important to know why people cover up abuse (institutions like USAG are made up of individual people who can make bad choices but not all people who are part of an institution are aware of the bad decisions). This is not an easy read in terms of topic. More often than not, the hard, life changing lessons that will change things for the better don't come wrapped in a pretty box with a bow on top. ~ Lori Forster
Anonymous 7 months ago
This book is so timely in our culture today. Rachael is such an eloquent writer and speaker, and her book does not disappoint in quality. Her personal story is compelling, and the unfolding of events will leave you aching with pain and rejoicing in relief. Everyone can benefit from this book. Abuse victims and survivors, please read with caution, as the story is painful and detailed. Anyone else who may come in contact with victims and survivors, please read this story so that you can understand some of the dynamics of abuse and the trauma that ensues. These things are crucial when caring for survivors. Rachael, thank you for your vulnerability and advocacy. *Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher, but all opinions are my own.
APritchett 7 months ago
How does one review a book such as this? Everyone should read it—I wish the need for it did not exist. Beyond the beautiful picture of family the book presents and Rachael Denhollander’s enjoyment of the sport of gymnastics in her youth, I wish none of the things in the book ever happened. But they did happen in the lives of many girls and young women. Repeatedly.  So I repeat: everyone should read this book. What Is A Girl Worth? should serve as a bucket of ice cold water to the American public. We in the church should pay special attention. Rachael Denhollander remains one of our own. She could not have a more particular Christian pedigree. She’s a homeschooling mom of 4 married to a working man who studies at one of the premier seminaries in the United States. Her story doesn’t concern ne’er-do-wells in some coastal city the evangelical world has dubbed a scary place. It unfolds in the Midwest and involves regular folks who could be anyone. Rachael Denhollander could be a woman I know.  Why should everyone read this book? You should read it because it concerns you. It concerns a great evil which existed and was allowed to exist for far too long.  As a man tasked by a small local church with leading and teaching teenagers, I have had the sad task of reading books and attending training on protecting children and teens from sexual abuse. In her memoir, Mrs. Denhollander verifies absolutely everything I have learned. She relates in a narrative format the things one learns from a good book like On Guard. Where consumption of books on policy and procedure can become perfunctory (even on such grave matters), a memoir such as What Is A Girl Worth? never does. The book contains incredibly clear writing and gripping story-telling. Even so, I found it incredibly difficult to read. Because it happened. Everyone should read this book. In the pages of her book, Mrs. Denhollander shows the reader exactly how an abuser grooms victims, executes abuse, and covers his tracks with obfuscations and power plays. She explains the confusion and trauma felt by those who suffer sexual abuse. She gives much time, energy, and space to detailing the difficulty of confronting sexual abuse both from the personal side of dealing with the trauma itself as well as the nearly impossible task of receiving a listening ear. I found myself wondering as I read, Would anything have happened if she had not pursued legal studies? I must say, I wonder the answer to the question still.  Human depravity proves a sad and multi-faceted thing. In my research on sex abuse, I gleaned information on grooming. Mrs. Denhollander’s book shows exactly what grooming looks like. It can be as simple as consistent compliments on one’s boots, the sort of thing which would set most men off as observant. Larry Nassar played such things to his advantage deliberately. Many with an eye on the news scratch their heads over the existence of impenetrable virtual fortresses which guard predators such as the former doctor, Larry Nassar. What Is A Girl Worth? reveals exactly how these virtual fortresses stay strong: through the seemingly small choices of those who do not want involve themselves and explain away the testimonies of those who become sexual prey.  But wait. Aren’t we overplaying this whole thing? Do things like this happen that often?  In the span of this very decade, we have seen two high profile sex abuse scandals at major American universities. We know the names of Larry Nassar a
LGibson 7 months ago
"I wasn't alone. I was not alone." So often those who have been abused feel alone. They try to bury it inside, afraid they will not be believed or that nothing will be done. When the perpetrator is well known and respected, there can be great pressure to remain silent. Telling the world about being violated, something so very personal, so life changing, is never an easy decision to make. What Rachael shares is deeply personal and shows us, once again, that "your voice matters." Her voice helped to stop and bring down a serial pedophile. She also reminds us how predators can be extremely manipulative. This time, such a man was exposed for all to see as a judge read Larry's own words to the world after Larry's performance in making his final statement. "A murmur of disgust rose in the gallery. Survivors who had sobbed at Larry's apology lifted their heads, seeing through the carefully crafted words and artfully expressed emotional facade from just moments earlier." It was done...and yet, it wasn't. And each day the number of voices grow stronger.
Nicadoo 7 months ago
As an educational professional with 21 years of experience (13 of those in higher education), I started following the story of Larry Nassar and Michigan State University because of the cautionary tale it was regarding leadership (or the lack thereof) in higher education. I was appalled at how the university's "leadership" deflected and failed to take responsibility for their inaction over the years that alarms had sounded about his behavior. In the midst of this story, I read about Rachael Denhollander--a survivor of Nassar's abuse who contacted the Indianapolis Star after she read their report on abuse by coached in USA Gymnastics. By going public with her story, and filing criminal complaints against Nassar (thanks to a change in the law that extended the statue of limitations), the evidence against him snowballed and he will never again live life outside of prison. Having devoured so much of the news about this story, I thought I knew just about everything regarding Rachael's experience, strength, and leadership throughout the process of seeking justice for herself and the hundreds of other survivors of Nassar's abuse. I was wrong. Rachael reveals so much of her experience (but never in a gratuitous fashion), and she does so to let other survivors know that they are not alone, they are not imagining things, that what they are experiencing is wrong, and that there can be healing. It's difficult to summarize the importance of this book, or to narrow the audience of who should read it. If you are or aspire to be a leader, you should read it as an example of what selfless leadership is. If you are a parent or teacher, you should read it to better understand how to recognize the signs of abuse in children and to know better how to support children who have been abused. If you are a survivor of abuse, you should read it to know that you are not alone and you are worthy of healing. If you have ever wondered why a survivor "didn't say something sooner," you should read this book to understand exactly why people keep their abuse a secret. If you are a human being who is discouraged by the amount of evil in the world, you should read it to know that right can and does prevail, especially when we all contribute to fighting for what is right. This book is about a topic that is difficult beyond imagination, but it is so uplifting to know that there are still heroes in this world, and Rachael Denhollander certainly is one.
Anonymous 7 months ago
Rachael Denhollander does an outstanding job of providing insight into the complicity of individuals and systems in protecting sexual abusers, complicity that can be both accidental and intentional. This book provides tremendous insight into victim experiences and retraumatization, particularly as it relates to court proceedings. Rachael's heart for victims is tremendous throughout this book, and it is clear throughout the book that the strong support of her family and her husband have provided her with much love and acceptance. She appropriately and courageously criticizes ways that churches are complicit in safeguarding abusers, as well; many writers with her background would shy away from doing so. Despite the strengths listed above, I do have some concerns with her book as well. First, she does not provide any conclusion to church issues; if anything, they may be tied up too neatly. While she and her husband may have had hopeful conversations with their former church in Kentucky, it is worth noting that both Sovereign Grace and the SBC at large remain slow to act and slow to protect and believe victims. I am also concerned that her book portrays a journey of sexual abuse recovery absent of counseling, a question I messaged Mrs. Denhollander to ask more about (I have not received a response). Her book demonstrates legal recovery, but I am concerned that victims and survivors of abuse may use her story to justify not seeking mental health/trauma counseling.
Anonymous 7 months ago
Rachael Denhollander does an outstanding job of providing insight into the complicity of individuals and systems in protecting sexual abusers, complicity that can be both accidental and intentional. This book provides tremendous insight into victim experiences and retraumatization, particularly as it relates to court proceedings. Rachael's heart for victims is tremendous throughout this book, and it is clear throughout the book that the strong support of her family and her husband have provided her with much love and acceptance. She appropriately and courageously criticizes ways that churches are complicit in safeguarding abusers, as well; many writers with her background would shy away from doing so. Despite the strengths listed above, I do have some concerns with her book as well. First, she does not provide any conclusion to church issues; if anything, they may be tied up too neatly. While she and her husband may have had hopeful conversations with their former church in Kentucky, it is worth noting that both Sovereign Grace and the SBC at large remain slow to act and slow to protect and believe victims. I am also concerned that her book portrays a journey of sexual abuse recovery absent of counseling, a question I messaged Mrs. Denhollander to ask more about (I have not received a response). Her book demonstrates legal recovery, but I am concerned that victims and survivors of abuse may use her story to justify not seeking mental health/trauma counseling.
Anonymous 7 months ago
I had the honor of hearing Rachel speak at SBC 2019. She spoke with incredible courage and clarity, in a way that was convicting and cutting - but without malice. She writes the same way she speaks, like a surgeon cutting a tumor out. There's not a word wasted here, which would be a feat in and of itself. What makes it all the more impressive is that Rachel is speaking about her experiences. It's a painful read, but it was absolutely a more painful write. Read it carefully. Engage with the work. Rachel has done the hard work here - and she's invited you to join in the response.