Gabby Douglas Says She Was Abused by Former Team Doctor Larry Nassar
"I didn’t publicly share my experiences as well as many other things because for years we were conditioned to stay silent," Gabby Douglas wrote
Douglas’ announcement comes just days after she had criticized Raisman for speaking out on Instagram about the victim shaming many women endure after coming forward about their own attacks.
“I didn’t view my comments as victim shaming because I know that no matter what you wear, it NEVER gives anyone the right to harass or abuse you,” Douglas shared in a statement on Instagram Tuesday. “It would be like saying that because of the leotards we wore, it was our fault that we were abused by Larry Nassar.
“I didn’t publicly share my experiences as well as many other things because for years we were conditioned to stay silent and honestly some things were extremely painful. I wholeheartedly support my teammates for coming forward with what happened to them.”
The three-time Olympic gold medalist shared an apology on Twitter Friday following her comment towards Raisman, writing, “i didn’t correctly word my reply & i am deeply sorry for coming off like i don’t stand alongside my teammates.”
She further clarified her comments in her statement Wednesday, writing: “I understand that many of you didn’t know what I was dealing with, but it is important to me that you at least know this. I do not advocate victim shaming/blaming in any way, shape or form! I will also never support attacking or bullying anyone on social media or anywhere else.
“Please forgive me for not being ore responsible with how I handled the situation. To every other individual that commented to or about me hatefully, I apologize that I let you down too. I will never stop promoting unity, positivity, strength, being courageous and doing good instead of evil. I have learned from this and I’m determined to be even better.”
More than 130 women, many of them former athletes, have accused Nassar of sexual assault. Nassar was fired by USA Gymnastics in 2015 after nearly three decades with the organization. He also faces 33 counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct in Michigan.
Lawyers for Nassar have yet to respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.
Nassar is in jail now, facing several charges related to the alleged abuse. In July, he pleaded guilty to three child pornography charges in federal court, ABC News reported via ESPN. In exchange for Nassar’s guilty plea, U.S. prosecutors have agreed not to pursue charges in two additional incidents of alleged sexual crimes with minors. He is scheduled to be sentenced in federal court on Dec. 7, according to the Lansing State Journal.
Raisman’s decision to finally set the record straight about the sexual abuse she received at the hands of former USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar wasn’t an easy one, she told PEOPLE in an exclusive interview last week.
“I was just so scared and nervous about what people were going to think,” says Raisman, who details the abuse in the pages of her aptly-titled autobiography Fierce, which will be released on Nov. 14. “I was a textbook victim, brainwashed to believe I was fine.”
In a statement on Nov. 12 following Raisman’s announcement, Team USA Gymnastics said in part: “We are appalled by the conduct of which Larry Nassar is accused, and we are very sorry that any athlete has been harmed during her or his gymnastics career.
“Aly’s passion and concern for athlete safety is shared by USA Gymnastics. Our athletes are our priority, and we are committed to promoting an environment of empowerment that encourages speaking up, especially on difficult topics like abuse, as well the protection of athletes at all levels throughout our gymnastics community.
“We are hard at work to strengthen that commitment by: adopting the USA Gymnastics Safe Sport Policy; hiring a new president and chief executive officer who emphasizes empowerment throughout the organization; building a safe sport department that is developing a comprehensive education plan for members; and creating an implementation plan for the recommendations made by an experienced, former federal prosecutor who carefully examined the organization’s past policies.”
The statement concluded: “We are committed to doing what is right, and we want to work with Aly and all interested athletes to keep athletes safe.”