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Simone Biles and her mom recall her sexual abuse trauma: 'We just cried together'

The gymnastics superstar opened up about when her emotions finally poured out about her abuse at the hands of former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar.
/ Source: TODAY

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Simone Biles has shared the raw moment when her emotions about the sexual abuse she suffered at the hands of former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar finally came pouring out in a phone call with her mother while Biles was driving on a Texas highway.

The gymnastics superstar and her mother, Nellie Biles, opened up about that initial step in her healing process in the latest episode of the Facebook Watch show "Simone vs. Herself" as she prepares to go for gold in the Tokyo Olympics.

Simone was driving one day near her home in Houston when she burst into tears on the phone with her mother as the pain of the abuse she suffered from Nassar came to the surface.

"I just remember breaking down and calling my mom," Biles said. "She told me to pull over. She was like, 'Can you drive?' because I was crying so hard."

"She was just hysterical," an emotional Nellie said. "She didn't say anything, she just cried, and we just cried together because I knew what it was she wanted to talk about. She didn't have to say anything."

Nassar was sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison in 2018 after more than 150 victims came forward to make statements about being sexually abused by him. Biles had initially refused to speak about it with anyone, even her closest family members.

"Talking to Simone about it, she was in denial, and she would be very angry when I would ask her anything," her mother said. "So I just gave her her space until she was ready to talk about it."

"I was super depressed, and I didn't want to leave my room and I didn't want to go anywhere and I kind of just shut everybody out," Biles said.

She slept constantly in order to cope with the abuse.

"And it's because sleeping was basically better than, like, offing myself," she said. "It was my way to escape reality. And sleeping was the closest thing to death for me at that point so I just slept all the time."

Biles also spoke about her naïveté about sexual abuse when she was training at the now-shuttered USA Gymnastics National Team Training Center at Karolyi Ranch, where many gymnasts said they were abused by Nassar during their training.

"All of those years, nobody ever told us what like sexual abuse was, so we didn't really feel like we were going through it or we were victims," she said.

Biles described her experience to a friend and asked her if that meant she was sexually abused, and the friend told her it absolutely did.

"I feel like in those instances I was one of the luckier ones because I didn't get it as bad as some of the other girls I knew," Biles said.

Even the memories of training at The Ranch under former Team USA coaches Bela and Marta Karolyi give Biles an uneasy feeling to this day.

"If I had to go back to the Ranch right now I'd probably s--- myself," she said. "There is no way I'd be able to train for another Olympic cycle under that because I'm more mature, I'm older and realizing, 'Wow, it didn't have to be like that. It just was like that.'"

Biles has worked to make sure her experience with Nassar has not robbed her of the joy for her sport, where she has become the most decorated gymnast of all time. She has also used her platform to be a voice for sexual abuse survivors and an agent of change in USA Gymnastics.

"There's all different sides of Simone," Nellie Biles said. "There's an insecure person, there's an anxious person, there's a person who strives for perfection, there's a person who stays very focused, there's a person who wants the world to be the way she wants it, there's a person who has gotten hurt along the way, and yet I know the Simone with the big goals, and I'm hoping that Simone will be the one that comes out on top."