‘We were conditioned to stay silent’ – US Olympic champion Gabby Douglas on alleged sexual abuse
In an Instagram post published on Tuesday, the 2012 all-around gold medalist apologized for a Tweet posted on Friday, addressed to her former teammate and alleged Nassar victim Aly Raisman, in which Douglas stated that it was a woman’s “responsibility to dress modestly and be classy” as “dressing in a provocative/sexual way entices the wrong crowd.”
Douglas’ comments sparked an avalanche of criticism on social media, including from the US’ most decorated gymnast, Simone Biles, who was “shocked” to see such a reaction from the former teammate, with whom she competed at the 2016 Summer Games in Rio.
shocks me that I’m seeing this but it doesn’t surprise me... honestly seeing this brings me to tears bc as your teammate I expected more from you & to support her. I support you Aly 💕 & all the other women out there! STAY STRONG pic.twitter.com/CccTzhyPcb— Simone Biles (@Simone_Biles) November 17, 2017
“First I want to reiterate my apology for responding the way that I did to a comment that one of my teammates posted,” Douglas wrote in her Instagram post. “I know some of you may take what I am about to say as insincere, but I still wanted to provide context.”
“I didn’t view my comments as victim shaming because I know that no matter what you wear, it NEVER gives anyone the right to harass or abuse you. It would be like saying that because of the leotards we wore, it was our fault that we were abused by Larry Nassar,” she added.
The three-time Olympic gold medalist didn’t specify what exactly she went through during her national-team career, but indicated that some “things” she dealt with “were extremely painful.”
“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,” she wrote.
“I understand that many of you didn’t know what I was dealing with, but it’s important to me that you at least know this. I do not advocate victim shaming/blaming any way, shape or form. I will also never support attacking or bullying anyone on social media or anywhere else,” Douglas said.
Two weeks ago, Raisman, a three-time Olympic champion, said she was sexually abused by Nassar while part of the US national team. She became the second gymnast of the so-called “Fierce Five” squad to publicly speak about Nassar, following McKayla Maroney’s statements that she was systematically abused by the former team doctor under the pretext of medical treatment.
Nassar is in jail in Michigan awaiting trial after admitting possessing child abuse images. He also faces lawsuits from more than 125 women accusing him of criminal sexual conduct.