• Niamh Casey

Simone Biles opens up about depression following abuse at hands of Larry Nassar

In an interview with Vogue, the record breaking gymnast spoke about 'dark times'

Vogue Magazine

Simone Biles has opened up about depression after she was sexually abused at the hands of Larry Nassar.

The 23-year-old is one of more than 250 of his survivors who endured abuse during his time as a doctor for the USA Gymnastics national team between 1996 and 2014.

In her latest interview with Vogue Magazine, the Olympic Gold Medalist described her reaction to his abuse going public in 2016: “It didn’t feel like real life."

I remember on tour, I would have really bad anxiety about nothing," Simone explained.

"Or like, walking down a hall, I feared that somebody was following me. I just had a lot of issues that were unexplained until I finally figured out why. The dots connected.

It was 2018 before Biles could recall what had happened to her, following which she said she suffered with depression and thoughts of suicide.

"I was very depressed," Biles said.

"At one point I slept so much because, for me, it was the closest thing to death without harming myself."

"It was an escape from all of my thoughts, from the world, from what I was dealing with. It was a really dark time.”

The gymnast states that at first she didn't think that what had happened to her was as serious as other victims.

She says that she has friends who's experiences she felt were much worse than her own.

Many of these gymnasts came forward to tell their story in the gripping documentary, Athlete A, which brought more light to the extent of Nassar's abuse.

Simone's sights are now set on the Tokyo Olympics 2021, so healing and growth have become part of her training regime.

She is still seeking justice for what happened to her and the other victims of Nassar, and criticised the legal settlement that USA Gymnastics proposed.

“It’s like, at the end of the day, I don’t want your dirty money, so many girls are affected by this.”

The USAG offered to divide €191 million between 500 victims in the settlement which would ultimately free former coaches and officials from liability of enabling the abuse.

Biles is among many who are instead vehemently seeking for a new independent investigation into the USAG and the handling of the case; “We need to figure out why it happened, when it happened, and who knew what, when”.

Simone said an investigation is necessary to ensure that people will be held accountable for their involvement in the Nassar case, and to ensure that young gymnasts will be able to avoid what she and so many others experienced.

In 2016 Larry Nassar was charged with receiving child pornography, possession of child pornography, and tampering with evidence after the FBI found over 37,000 images, of child abuse in his possession.

The 56-year-old was also charged with first-degree criminal sexual conduct in relation to allegations of sexual abuse during his time with USAG.

He was sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison for the sexual assault of minors and 60 years in prison for criminal sexual conduct.

© 2020 by EMPWR

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