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‘Sleeping Was Better Than Offing Myself’: Simone Biles Opens Up About the Sexual Abuse She Experienced from Former Team Doctor

Simone Biles’ Facebook Watch docuseries “Simone Vs. Herself” gives fans a firsthand look into the life of the most decorated gymnast. 

Biles not only talks about her achievements, but even gets candid about her dark times in the past. She’s already addressed her foster care experience, which occurred after she and her siblings were taken from her mom, who was on drugs at the time. Now, in the July 6 release, Biles is opening up about another very traumatic ordeal that she and over 300 of her fellow gymnasts endured: sexual assault. 

Simone Biles looks on during warm ups prior to the Women’s competition of the 2021 U.S. Gymnastics Olympic Trials at America’s Center on June 27, 2021 in St Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)

The 24-year-old said, “All those years, nobody ever told us what sexual abuse was. So we didn’t really feel like we were going through it or we were victims.” “I remember asking one of my friends, ‘hey if I’ve been touched here, have I been sexually assaulted?’ And I thought I was being dramatic at first, and she’s like, ‘No, [not being dramatic], absolutely.’ “

About 300 victims, Biles being one of them, began coming forward over two years beginning in 2016 accusing former USA Gymnastic national team doctor Larry Nassar of sexual assault. Former gymnast-turned-lawyer Rachael Denhollander was the first to commence the accusations, saying she was 15 when he abused her in 2000. 

Two years after Denhollander and other victims told their shocking and horrific stories, Biles came forward with a statement of her own on Jan. 15, 2018. In a long statement, she confessed, “I too am one of the many survivors that was sexually abused by Larry Nassar.” 

In the docuseries, Biles said her initial denial about her experience with Nassar was because she felt her abuse wasn’t “as bad as some of the other girls.” The seven-time U.S. champion’s dismissal continued and evolved into anger and withdrawal from those close to her.

Biles recalled a moment where she was driving and remembered a moment when Nassar abused her. She said, “I just remember breaking down and calling my mom.” Tearing up, Biles’ grandmother — whom she calls mom — described Biles’ reaction as “hysterical” and they “cried together.”

The 4-foot-8 gymnast said her response to the realization of her trauma was to “shut everybody out” and sleep “all the time.” She said, “Sleeping was basically better than offing myself. It was my way to escape reality. Sleeping was the closest thing to death for me at that point.”

In 2019 after a congressional panel concluded that the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee and the USA Gymnastics “enabled” Nassar’s abuse, Biles spoke out about her frustration on Twitter. Sharing a link to a Washington Post article, she wrote, “The more I learn, the more I hurt. USAG failed us. USOC failed us. Many failed us. And they continue to fail us. Real and actual change isn’t easy, but it’s clear there’s a lot more work that needs to be done.” 

Nassar pleaded guilty to multiple state and federal charges related to sexual assault of minors and child pornography in 2018, and the 57-year-old is currently serving a federal sentence in Florida. He will have to serve at least 90 years before he can be considered for release.

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