After several of her teammates came forward last year as victims of ex-USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar, who has been accused of sexually assaulting dozens of gymnasts throughout his career with the organization, Simone Biles revealed in a statement on Monday that she too was sexually abused by Nassar while competing with USA Gymnastics.
The “Fierce Five” member and Olympic medalist took to Twitter the day before many of Nassar’s victims were scheduled to testify in court to share her own #MeToo story.
“Most of you know me as a happy, giggly and energetic girl. But lately…I’ve felt a bit broken and the more I try to shut off the voice in my head the louder it screams. I am not afraid to tell my story anymore,” Biles began the statement. “I too am one of the many survivors that was sexually abused by Larry Nassar,” she continued. “Please believe me when I say it was a lot harder to first speak those words out loud than it is now to put them on paper. There are many reasons that I have been reluctant to share my story, but I know now it is not my fault.”
— Simone Biles (@Simone_Biles) January 15, 2018
In the statement, Biles detailed the heartbreaking way in which she was told she was receiving a “special treatment” from someone she felt she was supposed to trust in order to cover up the abuse, and explained that she’d even spent years feeling guilty and blaming herself for what happened to her. She later added that returning to the same training facility where the abuse took place, in order to prepare herself for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, had only made her pain worse.
Despite her devastating account of her experience, Biles ended the statement by saying she would not allow being a victim to define her and that she plans to continue competing.
“We need to know why this was able to take place for so long and to so many of us,” she said. “We need to make sure something like this never happens again.”
Biles’s teammate Aly Raisman, another one of Nassar’s victims, was quick to offer love and support to Biles. (Especially since not long ago, it was Biles sending messages of encouragement to Raisman when she came forward with her own allegations in November.)
I am so proud of you. You are incredible Simone. I stand with you. I am shaking reading your post. I know we will all get through this together. https://t.co/Ziec5Fkhwv
— Alexandra Raisman (@Aly_Raisman) January 15, 2018
Both Gabby Douglas and McKayla Maroney have also publicly revealed they are among the victims of Nassar’s abuse. As CNN reports, multiple young women who were assaulted by Nassar were given the option to testify against him in a Michigan court on Tuesday as part of his criminal sentencing, and multiple future dates have been set aside for the court to hear from up to 125 victims and their parents.
While we’re sure it wasn’t easy for Biles to come forward, we hope her bravery and courage will help other victims realize they are not alone.