Simone Biles Inspires Survivors to Speak Out About Sexual Abuse

Trigger Warning: This story is about sexual abuse and its impact on young women.

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Mahagani Burley, Sports Reporter

Simone Biles, seven-time Olympic Medalist, who is considered one of the world’s greatest gymnasts, recently spoke out about her sexual abuse from USA gymnastics doctor, Larry Nassar.  Though it started in 1994, Nassar’s abuse did not come to light publicly until 2015; in the years that followed, more and more gymnasts began to speak out about their abuse. National Public Radio states that Nassar was convicted of sexually assaulting girls and women when he was supposed to be providing them with treatment. About 250 girls and women came forward to accuse him of abuse. Many women struggle with the trauma of sexual abuse. Some never recover, but Biles decided her abuse didn’t define her. “I wasn’t going to let him take something I’ve worked for since I was six years old. I wasn’t going to let him take that joy away from me.” says Biles. 

According to the CDC, nearly one in five women have experienced sexual abuse during their lifetime. One in three rape victims experienced it for the first time betweeen 11 and 17 years old. One in eight rape victims reported that it occured before age ten. Unfortunately, these statistics also include North Little Rock High School students. The NLRHS students interviewed for this story, who wish to stay anonymous, say their abuse started as young as three years old.

 Some girls are too young to know what is happening, while others deal with the trauma of knowing exactly what is happening.  In a situation like this, many girls let it happen because they fear their abuser. “I froze because I was scared so I pretended to sleep until it was over, ” says an anonymous source. 

Sexual assault victims often are too afraid to speak out, because when they do speak no one listens or takes action. NPR states that Biles, along with former team USA gymnasts testified at a senate hearing concerning the FBI’s handling of the Nassar case. The FBI has been accused of failing to act after receiving numerous complaints about Nassar, thereby allowing him to abuse more girls and women after agents had already been made aware of his sexual misconduct. 

Sexual assault has many long term effects such as depression, post-tramautic stress, substance abuse and more. While many young women keep their trauma to themselves, those who have shared their experiences report the impact abuse has on their lives. One NLRHS student states, “It caused me to be hyper sexual at a young age,” while another source says, “It has made me not like being touched by anyone and scared of intimacy.”

Simone Biles’ celebrity status brings awareness to the fact that sexual abuse can happen to anyone, no matter your level of success or fame. However, her speaking up shows those who experience sexual assault that they have a voice and it is okay to use it. One North Little Rock High School source says, “I took my power back and put it to rest.”