Already have an account?
Get back to the

Simone Biles Explains Why She Came Forward as a Victim of Larry Nassar: It Was ‘So Traumatizing’

Simone Biles Explains Why She Came Forward as a Victim of Larry Nassar: It Was 'So Traumatizing'
Getty Images (2)

Simone Biles was one of hundreds of women who came forward in 2018 as sexual abuse victim of former Team USA doctor Larry Nassar. Now, the gymnast is reflecting on the decision to go public with her past trauma.

“A lot of people follow me. A lot of people go on my platforms, and I’ve always been an open and honest book from the very beginning,” Biles, 27, shared during an interview on the “Call Her Daddy” podcast, released on Wednesday, April 17. “I’ve always decided I’m not going to let anything ever change me because this is who I am. So, take it or leave it.”

Biles ultimately made the decision to recount her experience with Nassar, 60, because “it could help a lot of people,” but it wasn’t a choice she made lightly.

“If I could shine a light on whatever that is, then I’m going to do that,” she continued. “But I wanted to be in a good enough place and to have the proper help lined up before I spoke out, because that stuff was so traumatizing. And I truly don’t understand how I did what I did under those circumstances and how I put on a face.”

Simone Biles Through the Years From Junior Champ to Gymnastics GOAT

Related: Simone Biles Through the Years: From Gymnastics GOAT to Blushing Bride

Nassar worked as a physician for Team USA gymnastics and Michigan State University before being indicted on state sexual assault charges. He was ultimately charged with 22 counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct with minors in December 2016 and pleaded guilty to all charges.

Simone Biles Explains Why She Came Forward as a Victim of Larry Nassar: It Was 'So Traumatizing'
Simone Biles testifies during a Senate Judiciary hearing about the Inspector General’s report on the FBI handling of the Larry Nassar investigation of sexual abuse of Olympic gymnasts, on Capitol Hill, September 15, 2021, in Washington, DC. GRAEME JENNINGS/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

The FBI later discovered child pornography on computer hard drives, which he attempted to discard, and Nassar was arrested on federal charges. He ultimately pleaded guilty to receiving and possessing child pornography and evidence tampering in 2017, earning him a 60-year prison sentence.

Nassar subsequently pleaded guilty to seven counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct with minors. Some of Nassar’s victims shared impact statements during his January 2018 sentencing hearing, and Biles came forward with her experience in a lengthy social media message.

“I am not afraid to tell my story anymore. I too am one of the many survivors that was sexually abused by Larry Nassar,” she shared via X at the time. “For too long I have 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 [USA Gymnastics], and others.”

Simone Biles Explains Why She Came Forward as a Victim of Larry Nassar: It Was 'So Traumatizing'
Larry Nassar appears in court on January 16, 2018 in Lansing, Michigan. Scott Olson/Getty Images

During his initial hearing, which took place in Lansing, Michigan, Nassar was sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison. In February 2018, he earned an additional 40 to 125 years in prison during a separate sentencing hearing in Eaton County, Michigan.

While reflecting on her career on Wednesday, Biles said she had already been diagnosed with anxiety and depression before going public with her Nassar experience. Her mental health struggles impacted how she processed the trauma of her past.

Olympic Athletes: Where Are They Now

Related: Olympic Athletes: Where Are They Now?

“It was hard to get out of bed. It was hard to do anything. Everything felt heavy in the end of the world. And again, a lot of sleepless crying nights,” she explained. “It just felt very — I wouldn’t even say dehumanizing — but it felt like I held a lot of the guilt that wasn’t mine to hold. I think that was the hardest for me to process.”

Biles has since learned it’s “not my guilt to hold” with the help of continued therapy. (Biles has also admitted that her past trauma could have played a part in the mental health issues she suffered during the Tokyo Olympics in 2021.)

“It’s gotten a lot better, and I feel comfortable,” she continued. “Now, I can have conversations and stuff like that. I have good days. I have bad days. But I also know that that doesn’t define me.”

If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

In this article

Got a Tip form close button
Got a tip for US?
We're All Ears for Celebrity Buzz!