Simone Biles Says She Slept 'All the Time' to Cope with Sexual Abuse: 'I Was Very Depressed'
Simone Biles went through an incredibly dark time while struggling to come to terms with the sexual abuse she suffered at the hands of disgraced former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar.
“Therapy is everything,” the 22-year-old Olympian told Priyanka Chopra during the actress’ new YouTube special If I Could Tell You Just One Thing, explaining that she’s still dealing with the lasting effects of Nassar’s abuse.
“I’m still going through things in everyday life, things that I have to go to therapy for,” she shared.
Biles went on to explain that she initially tried to deny the reality of Nassar’s abuse because she was afraid the world would stop seeing her as a champion athlete.
“There was a time I asked my friend, and I called her and I asked her the definition of ‘sexually abused.’ Because, you know, some of my other friends they had had it worse than me. And they’re like, ‘No if he did that’ — and I told her. She said, ‘If he did that and that, you’ve been sexually abused,’ ” she told Chopra, sharing that at the time she “kind of brushed it off.”
“I was like, ‘No, I’m not willing to put that out there for the world to see. They’re not gonna see me as Simone the gymnast, they’re gonna see Simone as the sexual abuse survivor.’ And so I denied it, and I buried it,” she explained. “I was very depressed, I like never left my room. I was sleeping all the time and I told like one of my lawyers, ‘I sleep all the time because it’s the closest thing to death.’ ”
Biles went on to share that the first person she opened up to was her mother.
“I had just read the story about my friend coming out and I was bawling and I called my mom and then I told her,” she shared. “We had detectives come and stuff like that. That was the moment I realized …”
Although it was incredibly difficult to come forward with her story, Biles feels “stronger” for doing so.
“It wasn’t easy but I feel like I’m a stronger woman today and I just feel like telling my story has helped younger girls,” she said.
In January 2018, Biles accused Nassar of sexual abuse in a letter shared on Twitter.
“I too am one of the many survivors that was sexually abused by Larry Nassar,” said the athlete. “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.”
Continued Biles, “For too long I’ve asked myself, ‘Was I too naive? Was it my fault?’ I now know the answers to those questions. No. No, it was not my fault. No, I will not and should not carry the guilt that belongs to Larry Nassar, USAG, and others.”
Biles’ Olympic teammates Aly Raisman and Gabby Douglas are among the over 150 women and girls who have accused Nassar of sexual misconduct.
Nassar, also a former doctor for Michigan State University, was sentenced to more than 175 years in prison in 2018. In a separate case, he pleaded guilty to several counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct.
In November, Biles won the women’s all-around at the 2018 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships. With her win, the athlete become the the first woman to earn four all-around titles.
Although Biles continues to be a star of the sport, she told the BBC earlier this month that she “definitely plan[s]” for the upcoming 2020 Olympics in Tokyo “to be my last.”
“I am in pain most of the time,” she explained. “I feel like my body’s gone through a lot and it’s kind of just falling apart – not that you can actually tell but I really feel it a lot of the time.”