Star Gymnast on Abuse: 'I Denied It ... Buried It'

Simone Biles says she's stronger now
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 29, 2019 6:57 PM CDT
Simone Biles: My Story Can Help Younger Girls
Gymnast Simone Biles in a file photo.   (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)

Simone Biles said she wanted to be seen as a top gymnast, not as a victim. She hesitated to tell anyone that she'd been sexually abused—or to confront the matter herself. "And so I denied it, and I buried it," the athlete told actress Priyanka Chopra Jonas in an interview posted on YouTube. It was only after reading about one of her friends coming forward that Biles decided to do the same, and she told her mother first, per CBS News. The winner of four Olympic gold medals is one of hundreds of women and girls, including other Olympians, who said they were abused by Larry Nassar. The former USA Gymnastics doctor was sentenced last year to 40 to 175 years in prison.

Asked how she copes, Biles told Chopra Jonas, "Therapy is everything." Before telling her mother, Biles said, she battled depression brought on by the abuse. "I, like, never left my room. I was sleeping all the time and I told, like, one of my lawyers, I said, 'I sleep all the time because it's the closest thing to death.'" She's gained strength by coming forward with her story and undergoing therapy. "It wasn't easy," Biles said, "but I feel like I'm a stronger woman today, and I feel like telling my story has helped younger girls." (Larry Nassar is reportedly unrepentant.)

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