Simone Biles Reveals the 'Hardest Part' of Returning to Gymnastics as Sexual Abuse Survivor
"I'm still here, so it's not going to disappear," says Simone Biles, who is still competing with USA Gymnastics after publicly revealing that she is a survivor of Larry Nassar's abuse
Simone Biles is opening up about how she continues to compete at the highest level of her sport while also mentally "compartmentalizing" her trauma as a sexual abuse survivor.
The 24-year-old Olympic gymnast, who will soon represent the U.S. at the upcoming Tokyo Games, previously came forward to reveal the abuse she experienced from convicted sexual predator and former Team USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar. According to Insider, Biles is the only publicly known survivor of Nassar who continues to compete in elite gymnastics. (Other major high-profile gymnasts retired after sharing their abuse stories.)
Speaking with Glamour for the magazine's June 2021 cover story, Biles opens up about staying focused and moving forward.
"I'm still here, so it's not going to disappear — we have power behind it," she said, explaining that her way of coping is "probably by compartmentalizing. I try not to think about it because I can't afford to — if I let them rule me, then they're winning."
"I know I'm doing it for me. I do it because I still have such a passion for it," Biles added of returning to the mat. She also told the magazine of competing once again under USA Gymnastics: "I think that's been the hardest part."
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Back in 2019, Biles bravely joined her fellow gymnasts in detailing the abuse inflicted on them by Nassar, who is currently serving a life sentence on charges of child pornography and sexual misconduct after more than 150 women and girls said he sexually abused them.
The celebrated gymnast previously ripped USA Gymnastics for not looking out for her and her fellow athletes, weeks after a congressional investigation reportedly found that the organization "knowingly concealed" abuse by Nassar, 57.
Since Nassar's sentencing, Biles has become an outspoken voice for change within USA Gymnastics. The athlete hasn't held back in her criticism of the organization, even clapping back at a birthday tribute they posted in her honor in March 2020.
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In conversation with Hoda Kotb on the Today show in April, Biles said returning to the sport this year was for more than just gymnastics — though she continues to be at the top of her game, shattering records.
"Since I'm still here and I have quite a social media presence and platform, they have to do something," she said at the time. "So I feel like, coming back, gymnastics just wasn't the only purpose I was supposed to do. ... I don't think I knew [that was part of my reason], either, but I feel like gymnastics wasn't the only thing I was supposed to come back for."
"I just feel like [with] everything that happened, I had to come back to the sport to be a voice, to have change happen," Biles also added. "Because I feel like if there weren't a remaining survivor in the sport, they would've just brushed it to the side."
If you or someone you know has been a victim of sexual abuse, text "STRENGTH" to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 to be connected to a certified crisis counselor.