Gabby Douglas Comes Forward As Sexual Abuse Victim: ”We Were Conditioned To Stay Silent”
Gabby Douglas is coming forward…
Days after sparking outrage for tweeting that women should dress “modestly” to prevent sexual assault, the Olympic gymnast is apologizing for her words and letting the world know that she too was a victim of Larry Nassar, the former USA Gymnastics team doctor charged with molesting seven girls and who has been publicly accused of sexual assault by Olympic gymnasts Aly Raisman and McKayla Maroney.
On Tuesday, Douglas released a statement via Instagram that seemed to imply she was a victim of sexual assault. Soon after the post, a rep for Douglas confirmed to E! News that Douglas was one Nassar’s victims as well.
Last week, Douglas incited a huge backlash after she criticized former teammate Raisman’s Instagram post slamming people who blame victims of sexual assault. The two-time gold medal-winning athlete responded to Raisman’s post by retweeting a screengrab of the Instagram with the comment, “It is our responsibility as women to dress modestly and be classy. Dressing in a provocative/sexual way entices the wrong crowd.”
Former teammate Simone Bilescalled out Douglas on Twitter and admonished her for not supporting her “Fierce Five” teammate. Additionally, the rest of the Internet was not so happy about the “victim shaming” comments and soon after the ex Team USA athlete hopped on social media to apologize.
But days later, Douglas returned to Instagram with a much lengthier apology and also to explain why she’s kept quiet until now.
In Tuesday’s Instagram post, Gabby wrote, “First, I want to reiterate my apology for responding the way that I did to a comment that one of my teammates posted. I know some of you take what I am about to say as insincere, but I still wanted to provide context.”
The 21-year-old continued her apology, “I take my job as a role model very seriously and I always want to do my best to represent all the best qualities that a role model should embody. I admit there are times that I fall short. I didn’t view my comments as a victim shaming because I know that no matter what you wear, it NEVER gives anyone the right to harass or abuse you.”
In the post, Douglas implied that she was also one of Nassar’s victims, seemingly putting herself into the group of athletes that “were abused by Nassar.”
Douglas wrote, “It would be like saying that because of the leotards we wore, it was our fault that we were abused by Larry Nassar. I didn’t publicly share my experiences as well as many other things because for years we were conditioned to stay silent and honestly some things were extremely painful.”
Despite her previous comments, Douglas says she supports both Maroney, who came forward last month via social media, and Raisman, who recounted her experience with the team doctor on 60 Minutes and in her upcoming book.
“I wholeheartedly support my teammates for coming forward with what happened to them. I understand that many of you didn’t know what I was dealing with, but it is important to me that you at least know this,” Douglas continued. “I do not advocate victim shaming/blaming in any way, shape, or form!”
Douglas also asked for forgiveness over her response to Raisman.
She wrote, “I will also never support attacking or bullying anyone on social media or anywhere else. Please forgive me for not being more responsible with how I handled the situation. To every other individual that commented to or about me hatefully, I apologize that I let you down too. I will never stop promoting unity, positivity, strength, being courageous and doing good instead of evil. I have learned from this and I’m determined to be even better.”
Nassar currently faces 22 counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct, but has denied the allegations and has pled not guilty to the assault charges. The doctor is facing a minimum of 25 years in prison.
Nassar is also being sued by 125 girls and women.