Simone Biles opens up about the moment she told her mum she was sexually abused
Her mother revealed the pair "cried together."
Simone Biles has opened up about the moment she told her mother she was sexually abused by former Olympic doctor Larry Nassar.
The champion gymnast and her mother Nellie spoke about the heartbreaking moment on an episode of her Facebook Watch show, Simone vs. Herself.
She spoke about how she and other victims were in a state of denial over what was happening to them, with Simone unsure of whether what she went through could be classified as sexual assault.
"All those years, nobody ever told us what like, sexual abuse was," Simone said of her time at Karolyi Ranch, an Olympic training facility in Texas where Nassar preyed on hundreds of young gymnasts in his care.
"So we didn't really feel like we were going through it, or we were victims."
She explained that as most of the girls were homeschooled and didn't have many peers outside of gymnastics due to their extensive training, they didn't have many friends to ask or compare experiences with.
"I remember asking one of my friends, 'hey, if I've been touched here, have I been sexually assaulted?' And I thought I was being dramatic at first, and she's like 'absolutely.' ...In that instance, I felt like I was one of the luckier ones, because I didn't get it as bad as some of the girls I knew."
The denial and internal downplaying of what she had experienced continued even when the news about the disgraced doctor broke. Nellie first heard about the abuse on the news like the rest of the world, and tried to broach the subject with Simone.
"She was in denial," she said of her daughter. "She would be very angry when I would ask her. So I just gave her her space until she was ready to talk about it."
Simone says multiple family members tried to ask her and get her to open up about her experiences with Nassar, but she would shut down the conversations and insist "nothing happened."
But the realisation that she had been sexually assaulted randomly hit her one day when she was driving, prompting her to break down and call her mother, who made her pull over.
"She was just hysterical," Nellie said, visibly upset. "She didn't say anything, she just cried. And we just cried together, because I knew what it was that she wanted to talk about. She didn't have to say anything."
The 24-year-old said she then became deeply depressed and began sleeping all the time to escape reality as it was "the closest thing to death."
She shared that while a physical injury is something a gymnast can recover from within a few weeks, recovery is still ongoing for what she and her peers went through. "There's actually no time limit or healing time for it, so you just take it day by day."
But as she said when she first publicly told of her "horrific experience" with Nassar, she is not defined what she was subjected to. "I won’t let one man, and the others that enabled him, to steal my love and joy," she said in a statement at the time. "I have promised myself that my story will be much greater than this..."
Given all she has achieved and inspired by her young age, we'd be inclined to say it already is.