Olympic gold-winning gymnast Simone Biles has been open and forthcoming about the sexual abuse she experienced at the hands of former athletic doctor Larry Nassar. Biles sat down with Pryanka Chopra to speak about a variety of things, including striving for perfection, dealing with immense, internal and external pressure and how she began healing from the sexual abuse.
The expectation of being perfect
I feel like that’s the hardest part of my career. I don’t want to say job because I chose to do it. But I feel like, always meeting people’s needs, every single day, all the time is the hardest thing that I go through.
I feel like if I don’t meet their needs then I failed, even at the Olympics, Everybody wanted me to win six golds or this or that and I didn’t meet those needs and I was really down on myself, especially after the beam even thought I still medaled. And everybody was like, ‘What the heck is a bronze?’
The best way of dealing with pressure
Therapy. Therapy is everything. I feel like nowadays, if you say you’re going to therapy, nobody questions it anymore. But before if I said I’m going to therapy, they’re like ‘Oh you’re going to a cuckoo doctor. That’s why therapy today is so important and it needs to be more normalised. I’m still going through things in everyday life that I still have to go to therapy for.
It all comes back to my childhood and everything that’s happened to me, being sexually abused and all that stuff.
When she realized she was being abused
There was a time I asked my friend and I called her, and I asked her the definition of sexually abused because some of my other friends they had had worse than me. And they’re like, ‘No, if he did that and that then you’ve been sexually abused.’ I kind of brushed it off. I’m not willing to put that out there for the world to see. They’re not going to see me as Simone the gymnast. They’re going to see me as Simone as the sexual abuse survivor. So I denied it and I buried it. And I was very depressed. I never left my room. I was sleeping all the time. And I told one of my lawyers, ‘I sleep all the time because it’s the closest thing to death.’
I told my mom first. I had just read the story about my friend coming out and I was bawling and I called my mom and then I told her. Then we had detectives come and stuff like that and that was the moment I realized.
It’s a lot better now. It wasn’t easy but I feel like I’m a stronger woman today and I feel like telling my story has helped younger girls.
Does she see herself as a role model
Yes and no. I try not to let it alter how I behave because I want them to always know the real, raw Simone. We’re not going to try to get arrested or have any videos on TMZ or anything but we have to live our normal lives.
Her advice for Pryanka
I think it’s risk-taking. Even in 2018, I took a lot of risks and I did things that terrified me. It made me realize who I was as a person.