Gabby Douglas apologizes again & comes out as one of Larry Nassar’s victims

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On Monday, we discussed the drama between the American gymnasts Aly Raisman, Simone Biles and Gabby Douglas. Aly Raisman had come out as one of Larry Nassar’s victims – Nassar being the long-time doctor to Team USA’s Gymnastics team – and Raisman was doing the lord’s work with how she spoke about her abuse, and the education she was providing to girls about rape culture and accountability. Raisman wrote a social media post about the need to end victim-blaming, specifically around the “well, how were you dressed?” question. Gabby Douglas piped up and initially wrote to Raisman, “However it is our responsibility as women to dress modestly and be classy. Dressing in a provocative/sexual way entices the wrong crowd.” Simone Biles jumped in and defended Raisman, and many, MANY people were yelling at Gabby for victim-blaming.

I said in the post that I didn’t think Gabby should be canceled – I said I hoped this was a teachable moment for Gabby and for society as a whole. Gabby is not Lena Dunham, you know? Gabby doesn’t have a long history of saying and doing stupid and problematic sh-t. I felt and I still feel like we shouldn’t burn a young woman for saying one wrong thing if she shows that she’s capable of learning from her mistake. And now there’s another reason why we need to, perhaps, give Gabby a f–king break: Gabby was a victim of Larry Nassar too. She posted this on her Instagram:

please hear my heart

A post shared by Gabby Douglas (@gabbycvdouglas) on

I believe her, about everything. She said one stupid thing, she realizes how stupid it was, and she said it partly because she’s still processing the fact that she was abused by Nassar too. I don’t think that we, the adults who have lived in the world for many, many years, realize that for many of these young women, they don’t always have the language to deal with what happened to them. They don’t have the verbal framework to explain it to other people, much less the entire world. One of the emotions most victims feel after being abused? Guilt. They feel like they’ve brought the abuse on themselves. That’s how victims process it for years afterwards, and now it’s clear that Gabby was initially speaking out of that mindset.

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68 Responses to “Gabby Douglas apologizes again & comes out as one of Larry Nassar’s victims”

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  1. V4Real says:

    I’m thinking her comment had something to do with her blaming herself for what he did to her. Maybe she thought well if I hadn’t dressed like that it wouldn’t have happen. Victims tend to blame themselves, feel a shame and sometimes lash out at others out of the anger they are feeling about what happened.

    I give her a pass and now it makes sense why she said what she said.

    • FHmom says:

      I give her a pass, also. I hope this helps her heal.

    • Rachel in August says:

      I would also give her a pass. And in her defense, that is how many abusers/rapists justify their behaviour, “Well look how she was dressed, like a whore. She should know better.” But people can justify anything, sadly.

    • Lily T says:

      Yes, exactly. I was tortured by doubt and shame after being locked in a bathroom and assaulted at age 15. For a long time I told no one, and thought I must have done something to “make” him act that way. It’s horrible what your mind will do to you, especially in a society that too often blames victims and protects predatory men.

    • raincoaster says:

      Yes, I agree with most of what you said, but what she said was flagrantly unkind. You can’t blame that on her predator. Her coming out as a victim was perfectly predictable, because what groomed-for-abuse young women do is defend their predators. Then they think about it a bit more, and if they think they have support and will be heard, they come out about the abuse.

  2. Peeking in says:

    Sigh. I’m not sure if this makes her initial comment about dressing modestly better or worse.

    • Nicole says:

      I think worse but to HER. I’m wondering if this is the messaging she got from someone at some point in time. Also did this message come after she disclosed her abuse?
      If so that’s so upsetting. Shows how deep these messages can run

    • Belle says:

      This kind of contradictory behavior is more common than you’d think in sexual abuse survivors in denial. I don’t know if she has ever really faced her abuse head-on. I’ve met numerous survivors who blame other victims for not “helping themselves” more. Maybe it’s a bit of projection, I don’t know. I was guilty of it myself as a stupid teenager who was in DEEP denial of my own consistent sexual abuse as a child by my sibling. It wasn’t until I was 24 that I thought about my own hypocrisy in relation to rape culture, regarding a stupid comment I made that went against my own experience. I also realized I did not know better. Gabby sounds like she has been in denial for so long that she couldn’t have realized on her own why what she said was wrong. I think she will learn A LOT from this.

      • flan says:

        I’m sorry to read what you’ve been through.

        I know that I’m just some random person commenting on a website, but I would like to say you’re very brave to share this. It’s also very strong that you came to this realization yourself, despite the horrible rape culture we live in and the knee-jerk reaction of many to always defend men, whatever they do.

      • @ Belle I totally agree with your comment.To condense how I feel I would say Gabby IS victim blaming-herself.She is/was blaming herself first and her comment was internally and externally about how she was spoken to by her predator perhaps and then how she probably spoke to herself after/during the abuse.I believed I was the biggest,most ugly whore who was “asking for it”due to my behavior,attractiveness at a young age,and how I dressed.My grandparents raised me and it took until my 30′s for repressed memories to surface.My paternal grandfather groped me regularly and harassed me most of my growing up years.We were upper middle class people who “these things don’t happen in our family “I believe my grandmother knew the whole time and SHE is the one who called me awful names.I was a selfish whore just like my mother.Abuse victims are mentally and verbally and emotionally abused while physical abuse is happening.Gabby and every victim deserves compassion because I guarantee you she despises herself on some level and it’s so easy to project your unhappy emotions.I am sorry Belle for your abuse and I’m saying now I’m proud of you and EVERY victim who has the nerve to speak!Sometimes I still feel the burning shame and guilt but hearing others speak out is so healing.

    • ol cranky says:

      This smacks of the same sort of comments I heard from “pro-life” anti-abortion protesters when they came in (or brought their daughter in) for an abortion. They would talk about how they needed to terminate the pregnancy because of theirs was a special situation and very different from those other women there as those other women seeking abortions were selfish, irresponsible and immoral sluts

      In this case, it sounds like Douglas was implying that other, less conservative, women did do something to make themselves targets (whereas she did not) and was, rightfully, pilloried for the comment. I don’t care if you’re a prostitute or a porn star or found naked in a field, nobody has the right to grope you or engage you in sexual activities without your consent, and you are not to blame if someone assaults you

      • kibbles says:

        I agree with you. A lot of women who have been brainwashed by a conservative religious upbringing are even more hypocritical and judgmental of other women than some men. Somehow they can excuse their reasons for getting an abortion or being attacked by a man. Then they can turn right around and blame another woman who also needs an abortion or is sexually assaulted for not accepting religion into her life or having loose morals. I have seen it so many times. I know one woman who got an abortion and now she goes to church every weekend with her Republican husband (who probably doesn’t even know she had one before they were married), and has two kids. Another woman I knew would often criticize women from a certain country different from hers for being easy and slutty, but she wasn’t exactly waiting until marriage either. Many religious people are constantly in conflict with what they are taught not to do and their own actions in a modern society.

    • Erinn says:

      Both, really. I feel for her – nobody should have to go through abuse.

      But at the same time – she came off as SO lacking in empathy – which you would think she would have, considering she went through the same thing. She knows that someone abused their power with her, as well as her team members. But she still chose that moment to talk about how it’s our responsibility as women to dress modestly – and that’s so many levels of messed up.

  3. Yaara says:

    That’s honestly so sad. The U.S. Gymnastics organization should seriously be paying for therapy for all of these girls/ young women. Or they should burn to the ground.

  4. Betsy says:

    Given how prolific an abuser Nasser was, I suspected this was the case. I’m thinking of you, Gabby.

  5. Bex says:

    I so hoped that my gut feeling that she was internalising blame was wrong. When she was getting harassed by the media and seemingly half the country online in 2016 for her hair or not smiling or not being happy enough for her teammates etc etc her mum said something like ‘you have no idea what she’s been dealing with but now isn’t the time to tell it’. She also comes from a deeply religious background and spent many of her formative years away from her family (she lived with hosts when training in Iowa at 15). I just feel deeply deeply sorry for her and hope she gets the support she needs from the gym community that they have been giving to the other victims. It’s really regrettable that some are doubting her credibility (from many of the same people who cancelled her instantly for her comments) or that she felt she had to come forward with this if she hadn’t been ready previously.

  6. Rapunzel says:

    This is exactly what I was thinking. That she said what she said because her religious upbringing makes her somewhat feel responsible. or she feels like she can avoid being a victim again by dressing modestly. I hope she’s got people showing her the light.

    edit: this is in response to v4real…don’t know why it’s in the wrong spot.

  7. Lindy says:

    As someone who was raised in a very religious environment myself (which I believe Gabby was as well), the internalized shame over experiencing this kind of thing would definitely be enough to make you think some of things she said (if only I’d been more myself dressed, if only I hadn’t laughed nervously when he said that creepy thing etc.). So I’m glad she’s starting to process this. Leaving religion and everything to do with it completely behind was the only thing that allowed me to be myself and feel like a real human being. I know that’s not the case for everyone but it was for me.

    • flan says:

      I’m very weary of religion for this reason.

      Yes, I know that there are many good religious people, but it’s too often used to justify oppression and abuse of women and minorities.

    • I Have said on this site before that I am a Christian,a very liberal one.I went through abuse and it was by my “Christian”(coughs,throws up in own mouth)grandfather.I have chosen to be a believer but what the fundamental churches won’t say is that Jesus Christ was liberal,he was about change,calling out the hypocrites,he was about love and acceptance and the most “religious “people I know will quote Christ’s words and then use those same words to spew hatred at those with different beliefs -Not what true Christianity is about.

  8. HelloSunshine says:

    I can’t help but wonder if she told someone, and this is what they said to her :( Or, as others are saying, her religious upbringing led to her blaming herself. It’s not your fault Gabby. It’s never your fault when a monster takes advantage of you and uses their power to put you in an impossible position. I hope that her being brave and speaking about this can help other girls, specifically those who were raised very religiously, to recognize it’s not their fault.

    • magnoliarose says:

      I think she was raised to believe that way and someone told her that was the case.

      • My grandmother told me to never ask or say again that I was experiencing the comebacks of repressed memories.She said “We don’t have that in this family and if you bring it up again ” well, she let me know there would be no support to me.

  9. detritus says:

    Now imagine if you told your parents, and they questioned what you were wearing.
    Or your pastor/priest.
    Or your youth group.

    And the only people who had been through the same thing were people your background told you were ‘bad’ people. People who practiced immodesty, who did not follow the faith that was supposed to protect you.

    All of these things are possible, and Gabby has been fed this type of nonsense for a very long time. That modesty = value as a woman = safety.
    I imagine she has a very hard time processing what happened, and as Kaiser says, she most likely lacked not only the words to describe it, but the narrative and critical frameworks to do so.

    I believe Gabby. I wish her nothing but healing and I hope she can pass that forward to others.

    • lucy2 says:

      Well said. Sadly it all makes a lot of sense, how she was raised and how she was trying to process what happened to her. I hope that she didn’t feel pressured to disclose the abuse, but instead feels some relief in sharing her story, and knowing she is not alone. And I hope she and the other victims get whatever they need to move forward.

      If someone is willing to admit fault, and then try to learn and do better, I’m with them.

    • magnoliarose says:

      Yes. It makes me sad for her. Internalizing is so common and like you said it was most likely worse for her.

    • I Choose Me says:

      Well, I didn’t cancel her yesterday but I did reserve a side-eye for her. This newer apology goes a long way and seems much more genuine. Now that I know she was a victim as well who just hasn’t fully processed it all, my heart goes out to her.

  10. Veronica says:

    This is part of why the Internet’s one strike/puritanical victim mentality is so dangerous. We have to get away from this idea that suffering makes people more moral or insightful. The problem is that trauma is complicated. You can wind up internalizing ugly ideas or reassigning blame as a way of your mind coping with the reality of what happened. I hope she has people in her life willing to work through all the attendant issues resulting from this.

    • Lithe says:

      This is breathtakingly insightful, @Veronica. Thank you SO much for posting it.

    • I Choose Me says:

      I agree with Lithe completely. Thank you for that salient reminder. It makes me reevaluate my own thoughts on the matter and reminds me of domestic abuse victims and how much of the abuse is not just the physical but the long term mental impact well.

  11. Ayra. says:

    Basically, she blamed herself for the situation with Nassar or was told and believed that she was at fault, and externalized it on Aly…. Poor girl, I hope she gets help.

  12. Who ARE These People? says:

    Further confirmation of how much these abuses mess with the victim’s mind as much as the body.

  13. Insomniac says:

    Ugh, I feel so bad for her. I wondered if something like this had happened to her too.

  14. littlemissnaughty says:

    See, this is why I wasn’t going to cancel her after ONE questionable comment. It was one comment and while wrong, writing someone off, especially a young woman, because of one comment, is not the answer. I feel absolutely terrible for her and all the other girls and young women.

    Her initial comment now reads even more like a line she was fed for years or even in response to the other girls sharing their Nasser stories. Imagine that. I believe she will continue to grow and I wish her all the best.

  15. Eliza says:

    Has he lost his licence yet??

  16. Belle says:

    This isn’t surprising to me at all. I said some really stupid, victim-blaming shit as a teen, even though I was being abused for years. Wasn’t until I was in my mid twenties that I realized how wrong I was in the past. I was also DEEP, deep, deep in denial for years. It’s a survival tactic. In turn, you might have some fucked up thoughts regarding other rape victims. You never know why someone says what they say despite their own abuse. It isn’t simple. I think Gabby is learning a whole lot from this, but unfortunately, she is in the spotlight. She’s already been called a liar, an attention whore, a bitch for coming out with her abuse. I think it is vital for her to find support and ignore the negative comments coming from people who don’t know shit about this. I believe her.

  17. Scout says:

    Simone Biles is a total brat when it comes to Gabby – she is suddenly now mum on the fact Gabby is a victim but wastes no time in shaming her for not being her BFF, not returning text messages and went to town on publicly shaming Gabby for her idiotic comment. Simone is on top of the world right now but something tells me she’ll have a tough time once the “next big thing” takes her place and she’ll be sidelined like Gabby. Simone is the most incredible gymnast I’ve ever seen and she has earned all of her success but LBR, Gabby paved the way.

    • momoffour says:

      I completely agree. I admire and like Simone but I never liked the way she treated Gabby. To me, a random outsider, there has always been something so sad about Gabby. And I didn’t like how she got so picked on for. It smiling or whatever last Okympics. I just always got the sense she was carrying something heavy. It seemed to me that her teammates kind of mean girled her.

      • Bex says:

        During Rio, every one of them had time to tweet at every celebrity who mentioned them but not once did they make a public statement of support for Gabby. It always sat really badly with me. Aly has tweeted really gracious support for Gabby just now- she seems to have become a real advocate.

      • Scout says:

        Gabby has endured A LOT. She was the first black US gymnast to win the All-Around and the amount of racist vitriol she endured the past 5 years is insane. She has even talked about her own teammates in the past calling her their “slave” when they wanted her to do chores like chalking the bars. People have been obsessed with hating her – look at the insanity of the criticisms made about her in Rio – her hair was “unkempt” (which it wasn’t) and she wasn’t worthy of representing the country because she forgot to put her hand over her heart while the national anthem played? I have no doubt Simone has experienced her own share of horrible racism but she has never received the criticism Gabby has. She is just a brat, hopefully she grows up – she is 21 in a few months, it’s time.

      • msw says:

        The team DID in fact show public support for Gabby and told people to go pound sand for picking on her. Specifically, in regards to the comments about how Gabby was not smiling enough about not being able to compete in the AA despite being the third best AA gymnast in the world, the team made sure to note that all the bunk about Gabby pouting was not true, and that she had been an incredibly supportive teammate. I’m sure the national team team has some internal issues just like any other group of people who spend a lot of time together, but it’s a real stretch to say Gabby was “meangirled” by the others. (The “slave” thing noted above was not something which occurred at the national team, but at her old gym in Virginia.) Gabby has gotten a lot of unfair press, long before this – this was definitely the most justified criticism she got; the rest of it has pretty much all been BS.

    • ol cranky says:

      Biles quick response to defend Raisman after Douglas’ post that appeared to slut-shame Raisman as causing herself to be abused was perfectly appropriate, not bratty at all. Perhaps they were all aware that they were all abused by him which would have made it much more critical for Biles to shut Douglas’ comment down so swiftly. There was nothing bratty about that at all and Biles did nothing she needs to apologize for.

      Douglas admitted that she, too, was molested by the same person as part of her much needed apology for the statement she made. What sort of instantaneous public comment does Biles need to make to satisfy you?

      • Scout says:

        LoL, way to go on picking and choosing what you wanted of my comment to fit your own bizarre narrative! Can you seriously say with a straight face that her unending criticism of Gabby about everything isn’t contradictory of her self-serving missive about supporting one’s teammates? I didn’t say she was a brat because she showed support for her teammate – I said she was a brat for the way she went about it. She’s an adult – she could have picked up the phone or sent a DM, she didn’t need to publicly shame Gabby while in the process hyping up herself for being a better person.

        Don’t feel the need to respond, I can tell simple logic isn’t your strong suit. SAD!

      • ol cranky says:

        Not sure who took a wiz in your cornflakes this morning but the tone and tenor of your response is a tad bit ironic from someone ruing “bratty” behavior

        I was not commenting on the racist BS slung at Douglas as it’s not germane your assertion that Biles was a brat in her response.

        that said, Biles statement in response to Douglas’, essentially, victim-blaming Raisman was one that needed to be made in public to be most effective. The point was not just to tell Douglas her comment was wildly inappropriate but to make it clear to the general public that slut-shaming to blame a victim should not be tolerated.

        I might point out that Douglas is also an adult

      • Otaku Fairy says:

        I agree with Ol Cranky. Gabby’s statement was public and dangerous, so Simone’s public criticism was appropriate, not bratty. If the 22-year-old gets a pass, then the 20 or 21-year-old should get a pass for not keeping things private. If Simone is a brat to her in other ways for reasons that have nothing to do with that statement, then that’s another problem. I agree that all the racism and other poor treatment she’s gotten is awful though, on top of her being a victim of abuse.

      • Scout says:

        LoL, so you’re just going to continue to focus on the only aspect that fit your contrived narrative? Point proven, thank you!

      • magnoliarose says:

        Simone is not required to say anything more on the subject. Gabby was wrong. If someone thinks Simone should apologize, they are either drunk or have no clue how friendship works.

    • Jennie Hix says:

      Really? Gabby insulted her teammate, Simone stood up for her. Nothing wrong with that. Not bratty at all.

      That’s all I’m going to say on this twisted situation.

      • Scout says:

        No, Simone has publicly been hateful toward Gabby well before she made her comment and Simone’s response to it was in the same self-serving “Gabby is mean” tone that she can’t quit using.

      • msw says:

        LOL. No, Simone has not been critical of Gabby publicly. To say otherwise is ludicrous.

    • kibbles says:

      If anything it seems as if Simone has been a great team player since I first saw her at the Olympics. Simone seems to be closer with her other team members than with Gabby – maybe there is a reason for that? We don’t know what goes on behind closed doors. Simone isn’t obligated to be closer with Gabby than Aly because they are of the same race, and she was completely justified in coming out against Gabby’s insensitive tweet.

    • flan says:

      Please don’t call a grown woman a brat.

      Why not have compassion for Gabby and praise for Simone for defending her team mate?

  18. Lucy says:

    Ugh. Now her previous comment makes A LOT more sense. I believe her, too.

  19. Littlestar says:

    Must be difficult to be raised in an environment (in this case conservative Christian) that teaches you that you’re at fault for assault by “tempting” predators with how you’re covered/not covered and then to have to deal with the aftermath in that mindset.

    • Otaku Fairy says:

      Agreed. It’s good that she clarified that she doesn’t believe that women who don’t dress modestly actually deserve rape, but the sad thing is that she still probably believes that they unintentionally trigger men to rape. It’s an unhealthy myth that she’s been taught. I really hope she overcomes that some day. It’s not too late for her. And she shouldn’t be instantly cancelled upon her first public fuck-up as a celebrity. #IBelieveHer.

  20. Bridget says:

    I just want to give her a hug.

    Gabby Douglas has never been the most polished or the most media savvy gymnast, and she has been repeatedly, unfairly hammered for it. I dont agree with what she said, but I think it can be parsed into two distinct sentiments: 1) internalized blame and 2) a huge responsibility to those that look up to her. She doesn’t deserve to be punished for this for the rest of her days.

  21. Loo says:

    It’s pretty obvious she said what she said because she blames herself. I’m glad she apologized and I hope her teammates forgive her eventually.

  22. JRenee says:

    Dr.evil has pleaded. He will get minimum of 25 years. This man preyed on many. There are over a hundred victims involved. Absolutely horrific! !!!

  23. Naddie says:

    I hope she gets the healing she needs and deserves.

  24. fluffyrabbit says:

    Completely understandable and forgiven.

  25. HK9 says:

    There are times in life where you don’t have to respond, especially if you’re not offering support….hopefully Gabby has learned that lesson.

  26. Mar says:

    This is all so sad. These girls were living their dream and this sadly was the price they had to pay in their minds. They are confused and they all get a pass in my book. Who does NOT get a pass is the Olympic committee. There is no way that not one person reported this abuse. These poor girls , in the public eye, were thriving as athletes but dying inside due to this monster

  27. Jag says:

    So I was just listening to Philip DeFranco on youtube and he was talking about this story. One thing that hasn’t been reported here is that someone wrote Gabby on twitter and told her that she should be saying that men should be respecting women – that it isn’t the woman’s responsibility to not be assaulted.

    Gabby replied “It goes both ways.”

    I think this was before her last apology, but her lack of empathy is disturbing to me. I do feel for her if she were assaulted as well – since she said “we” in that quote. I hope that this is a learning experience for her because otherwise, she’s not a nice person.

  28. MelM says:

    I don’t believe Gabby.