Sometimes people speak out against the suffering of others because they don’t know how to deal with their own hurt, pain and suffering. I am going to assume that is the case with U.S. gymnast Gabby Douglas, who engaged in a bit of victim-blaming Friday when she said that a woman dressing “in a provocative/sexual way entices the wrong crowd” on Twitter.
Douglas later apologized for her statement, which was made in response to a tweet by her teammate Aly Raisman. Days earlier, Raisman had opened up about being sexually abused by former USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar.
On Tuesday, Douglas wrote a lengthy post on Instagram in which she admitted that she, too, had been sexually abused by Nassar. Douglas captioned the text image “please hear my heart.” The message in the text image contained the following statement:
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 may take what I am about to say as insincere, but I still wanted to provide context.
The day before I commented, I was at an event where hundreds of children and young adults came to spend an evening with me. It’s very humbling when many people look up to you as an example. 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 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 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. 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. I do not advocate victim shaming/blaming in any way, shape or form! 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.
All my love,
Douglas’ original comment was in response to a tweet in which Raisman had quoted a paragraph about not victim-shaming or victim-blaming a woman based on what she was wearing when she was sexually assaulted.
“[H]owever it is our responsibility as women to dress modestly and be classy. Dressing in a provocative/sexual way entices the wrong crowd,” Douglas wrote.
After being dragged across social media and called out by her teammate Simone Biles, Douglas apologized for her remarks and deleted the tweet.
“I am deeply sorry for coming off like I don’t stand alongside my teammates,” she later wrote. “Regardless of what you wear, abuse under any circumstance is never acceptable. I am WITH you. #metoo”
Who knew her “#MeToo” was literal?
Let’s support Gabby Douglas the same way we have supported all victims; she needs us, too.
There was probably a pain she couldn’t put a name on or even deal with realistically. Now that it’s out in the open, hopefully she will be able to get the help and support she needs.