In an Instagram post, Douglas apologized on Tuesday about her previous victim-blaming tweet that said it is “our responsibility as women to dress modestly and be classy” to avoid enticing “the wrong crowd.” In her apology, Douglas not just stressed that “no matter what you wear, it NEVER gives anyone the right to harass or abuse you,” but she also claimed that her comments, which were in response to a tweet by fellow Olympian and alleged Nassar victim Aly Raisman, were hypocritical because she herself was violated by the doctor.
“It would be like saying that because of the leotards we wore, it was our fault that we were abused by Larry Nassar,” Douglas wrote. “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.”
Over 140 women claim Nassar sexually molested them during medical exams, including fellow Fierce Five members Raisman and McKayla Maroney.
Douglas went on to say that she “wholeheartedly” supports her teammates that came forward, and she asked fans to forgive her “for not being more responsible with how I handled the situation.”
“I do not advocate victim shaming/blaming in any way, shape, or form!” she clarified. “I will also never support attacking or bullying anyone on social media or anywhere else.”
Douglas’ post sparked a lot of discussion online about how victims are “supposed to” react to being assaulted. In light of her coming forward about Nassar, many point out that Douglas’ original comments read more like an abuse victim grappling with the internalized cultural values that, she herself describes, “conditioned [her] to stay silent.”
PS – You can support Gabby Douglas without being ok with her statements last week. Believe her when she says she's also a survivor. That's it.
— SofiaRune (@SofiaRune) November 22, 2017
Still, many agree Douglas deserved the criticism for her original statement.
my heart is troubled with accepting Gabby Douglas’ recent allegations & remembering what the fuck she just did to her teammate 4 days ago 😔
— SIX. HUNNIT. OLLAS. (@LSS_LO) November 21, 2017
Nice assessment, I am inclined to agree with you however, I am not willing to forgive her stupidity. I also know she is a smart woman who pribably would know that we could assume her actions were due to some sort of survivor guilt.
— David Samuelson (@davidxsamuelson) November 22, 2017
So Gabby Douglas was abused by the team doctor too and she still had the nerve to victim blame and advocate for modesty when her teammate spoke out about her own personal abuse??? why???
— gen (@goldencvnyon) November 22, 2017
Meanwhile, others think online toxicity is damaging to women of color like Douglas, because, as one user puts it, activists “built” Douglas up only to “tear her down” after she made a mistake.
At the rate that team doctor was abusing young girls I'm shocked all the twitter experts on sexual abuse never once stepped back to consider that Gabby Douglas might have been a victim herself before and while they dragged her but sure y'all care about victims 🙄
— Med School Ash (@_hopepeacelove) November 22, 2017
Either way, Raisman clearly doesn’t have any hard feelings toward her teammate.
I applaud your bravery @gabrielledoug I support you.
— Alexandra Raisman (@Aly_Raisman) November 22, 2017
Nassar currently faces 22 first-degree criminal sexual conduct counts. It has been speculated that Nassar will plead guilty to sexual assault charges in court, according to the New York Times.