Simone Biles opens up about sexual abuse torment: ‘Closest thing to death’July 7, 2021
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Simone Biles is ready to share her story.
In the most recent episode of her docu-series, “Simone vs. Herself,” the 24-year-old and her mother discussed when she first came to grips with the sexual abuse she suffered from former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar and the beginning stages of her healing.
Biles described the moment when all her emotions about Nassar’s abuse came out and she began to sob while driving on a Texas highway as she spoke to her mother on the phone.
“I just remember breaking down and calling my mom,” Biles said. “She told me to pull over. She was like, ‘Can you drive?’ because I was crying so hard.”
“She was just hysterical,” Nellie Biles, her mother, said. “She didn’t say anything, she just cried, and we just cried together because I knew what it was she wanted to talk about. She didn’t have to say anything.”
In 2018, Nassar was sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison. Over 150 survivors of his abuse came forward to make statements. Currently, there are over 500 accusers to Nassar’s abuse. Biles initially was not among them. She did not speak about the situation with even her closest friends and family.
“Talking to Simone about it, she was in denial, and she would be very angry when I would ask her anything,” Nellie Biles said. “So I just gave her her space until she was ready to talk about it.”
However, the trauma from the abuse and not speaking about what happened to her had negative repercussions to Biles’ mental health. Throughout this period, Biles suffered from suicidal thoughts and slept through large portions of the day.
“I remember telling my mom and my agent that I slept all the time, and it’s basically because sleeping was basically better than offing myself,” she said through tears. “It was like my way to escape reality. And sleeping was the closest thing to death for me at that point, so I just slept all the time.
“I was super depressed, and I didn’t want to leave my room and I didn’t want to go anywhere and I kind of just shut everybody out.”
Like many other elite gymnasts, Biles trained at the now-shuttered USA Gymnastics National Team Training Center at Karolyi Ranch in Texas. Throughout the day, Biles discussed how gymnasts would travel to various stations. The last station was therapy, where Nassar abused dozens of young girls.
Biles recalled telling her parents training at the ranch was not a “fun” experience and that when she was younger, she thought she had to train under those conditions.
“If I had to go back to the ranch, I would probably s–t myself. There is no way I could train for another Olympic cycle under that because I am more mature, I am older, and realizing, ‘Wow, it didn’t have to be like that,” she said.
“Simone vs Herself” is a seven-part docu-series streaming on Facebook Watch. It chronicles Biles’ journey to return to the Olympics, which begins July 24.
In the most recent episode “What more can I say?” Biles not only discusses her abuse under Nassar, but also how she’s used her platform to champion survivors and advocate against sexual abuse.
Biles struggled to come forward as a survivor of sexual abuse. She recalled “bawling” every time she tried to write, but powered through because she wanted to send a message.
“I knew that it would help others, and that’s why I did it — to let them know they are not alone,” she said.
Soon after she released her statement, USA Gymnastics ended its partnership with Karolyi Ranch. She then realized the power she had to make change and create a safer environment for future gymnasts.
She and former Olympian and teammate Aly Raisman — who is also a survivor of Nassar’s abuse — discussed their advocacy during the episode. Biles’ mission has been to create a more inclusive world of sport. Raisman is currently suing USA Gymnastics and the U.S. Olympic Committee, accusing them of hiding Nassar’s abuse for years.
Biles added that she feels pressure as she is the only survivor who still competes for USA Gymnastics and came forward about Nassar’s abuse.
“Not that I am going to be punished for speaking on the inside, but I have to worry about what I say because I am still competing under [USA Gymnastics],” Biles said.
To date, there are over 500 survivors — including Biles and Raisman — who have filed lawsuits against USA Gymnastics, though all the lawsuits were put on hold when USA Gymnastics filed for bankruptcy in 2019. USA Gymnastics claims that it is planning on settling with survivors and emerging out of bankruptcy this summer.
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