Ahead of the Tokyo Olympics, Simone Biles is starring in a seven-part docu-series on Facebook Watch, Simone vs Herself, about her journey preparing for the games. In the latest episode, “What More Can I Say,” Biles opens up about being a survivor of sexual abuse. Biles is one of many young women who suffered at the hands of disgraced former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar. In 2018, Nassar was sentenced to life in federal prison for multiple criminal counts of sexual assault on minors and child pornography.
Like many other athletes, Biles trained at Martha Karolyi’s gymnastics ranch—which the USA Gymnastics organization oversaw—to become an elite gymnast. In the episode, Biles reveals that the athletes would have various stations throughout the day, the last station being therapy, where the young girls would see Nassar. “It was not fun; I remember telling my parents that,” Biles says about the ranch. “If I had to go back to the ranch, I would probably shit 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.'” Nassar’s criminal acts took place for more than two decades, during which time he assaulted over 150 women.
“I remember asking one of my friends, ‘Hey, if I have been touched here, have I been sexually assaulted?’ I thought I was being dramatic at first,” Biles says. “She was like, ‘No, absolutely,’ I was like, ‘Are you sure, I don’t think so.’ In those instances, I was one of the luckier ones, because I did not get it as bad as some of the other girls that I knew.”
Biles describes how she processed her abuse and how she turned her pain into power by finding her voice. As the face of gymnastics, Biles used her platform to share a statement about surviving sexual abuse on Twitter.
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“It took me a long time to write that, probably a couple of days, because every time I would go to write, I would start balling, and I couldn’t get through it,” she says. Soon after Biles’s tweet, USA Gymnastics cut ties with the Karolyi Ranch. That’s when Biles realized the weight of her words. “I knew that it would help others, and that’s why I did it—to let them know they are not alone,” she says.
In the episode, Biles also shares a tender moment with former Olympian Aly Raisman, 27. The two talk via Zoom about being advocates for survivors of sexual abuse. Biles discusses the pressure she feels being the only survivor who is still competing for the USA Gymnastics team and speaking out about what happened. “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 says. Raisman reassures Biles that she is doing great, and expresses sympathy over her difficult position.
“One of my goals is to be an advocate and have kids really believe in themselves, no matter if it’s inside sports, outside of sports, what you look like, where you come from, religion, or ethnicity,” Biles says. “It is about finding that light inside of you and letting you shine.”
Biles powered her way through the Olympic Trials and is now officially headed back to the games. The 24-year-old will lead the U.S. women’s Olympic gymnastics team with hopes of winning gold. Watch Biles and her teammates hit the floor at the Tokyo Olympics starting July 25 on NBC.
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