It wasn't easy for the gymnast to deal with the trauma, so she slept all the time, as "sleeping was the closest thing to death for me at that point."
Editor's note: This article was originally published on July 9, 2021. It has since been updated.
Trigger Warning: This story contains details of sexual abuse that may be disturbing to readers.
Olympic gymnast Simone Biles is one of the several women who suffered abuse at the hands of former USA Gymnastics team doctor Lawrence "Larry" Nassar. According to PEOPLE, over 150 people accused Nassar of abuse, including Biles and fellow Olympic gymnasts Aly Raisman, McKayla Maroney, and Gabby Douglas. It is understood that the doctor – who was fired from his position in 2015 – abused most of them at Karolyi Ranch, a well-known gymnastics training camp in Texas.
He was then sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison in 2018.
In the latest episode of Facebook Watch and Religion of Sports' Simone vs Herself, Biles finally opened up about what exactly happened at the ranch with Nassar and the other gymnasts.
"At the ranch, obviously stuff went down," Biles said in the episode. "It was always called our 'fifth station.' You had poles, vaults, beam, floor, then therapy was your last station to get your body taken care of." Sadly, at the time, they were too young to realize what was happening to them.
"All those years, nobody ever told us what sexual abuse was," Biles continued. "So we didn't really feel like we were going through it or victims."
According to Indianapolis Star, Nassar performed "osteopathic manipulation" on his patients; a practice where the doctor uses their hand to diagnose illnesses, and it was something a lot of girls there couldn't understand initially. "A lot of us didn't go to school, we were homeschooled. So it's not like we had a lot of people to talk about it with," she recalled in the episode. "I remember asking one of my friends, 'Hey, have I been sexually assaulted?' and I thought I was being dramatic at first, and she said, 'No, absolutely.'"
"I said, 'Are you sure? I don't think so,'" Biles recalled, during the episode. "Because I feel like in those instances, I was one of the luckier ones because I didn't get it as bad as some of the other girls I knew."
Now, even the thought of having to go back to the Ranch is quite traumatic for Biles, per TODAY. "If I had to go back to the Ranch right now I'd probably s--- myself," she said. "There is no way I'd be able to train for another Olympic cycle under that because I'm more mature, I'm older and realizing, 'Wow, it didn't have to be like that. It just was like that.'"
During the episode, the 24-year-old also spoke about how all her emotions came rushing to her one day when she was driving by herself; she was overcome by emotions about the abuse she suffered at the hands of Nassar.
"I just remember breaking down and calling my mom," Biles said. "She told me to pull over. She was like, 'Can you drive?' because I was crying so hard."
"She was just hysterical," an emotional Nellie, her mother, said. "She didn't say anything, she just cried, and we just cried together because I knew what it was she wanted to talk about. She didn't have to say anything." It was rather hard for Biles to even talk about it, even to her closest family members.
"Talking to Simone about it, she was in denial, and she would be very angry when I would ask her anything," her mother said. "So I just gave her her space until she was ready to talk about it."
"I was super depressed, and I didn't want to leave my room and I didn't want to go anywhere and I kind of just shut everybody out," Biles said. The only way she could cope with her trauma was by sleeping. "And it's because sleeping was basically better than, like, offing myself," she said. "It was my way to escape reality. And sleeping was the closest thing to death for me at that point so I just slept all the time."
Now, years later, the gymnast has worked hard to make sure the doctor didn't rob her of her one true joy, which explains how she's become one of the most decorated gymnasts at such a young age. Along with that, she's also used her platform to be a voice for sexual abuse survivors and an agent of change in USA Gymnastics.
"There's all different sides of Simone," Nellie said. "There's an insecure person, there's an anxious person, there's a person who strives for perfection, there's a person who stays very focused, there's a person who wants the world to be the way she wants it, there's a person who has gotten hurt along the way, and yet I know the Simone with the big goals, and I'm hoping that Simone will be the one that comes out on top."
If you or someone you know shows signs of suicidal thoughts, please reach out to 1-800-273-8255 (NCPL) or suicidepreventionlifeline.org.
Cover Image Source: Getty Images | Photos by (L) Scott Olson (R) Jamie Squire