EXCLUSIVE: Hope Solo Addresses Domestic Violence Assault Allegations, Soccer Suspension

The U.S. soccer goalkeeper opened about her recent troubles.

February 25, 2015, 12:08 PM

— -- U.S. soccer goalkeeper Hope Solo was accused of domestic violence assault against her family members and the charges were later dropped, but in an exclusive interview with Robin Roberts, Solo said she was the victim.

“It’s still very difficult to talk about, what took place that night,” Solo, 33, told the “Good Morning America" anchor of the family gathering at her half-sister's Seattle home last June.

“I'm not going to go into all of the details, but it was a scary night," Solo said. "I was a victim of domestic violence at the hands of my 17-year-old nephew who is 6-foot-9, 280 pounds. I was struck over the head and concussed pretty severely. It was a very scary night.”

The two-time Olympic gold medalist was charged with two counts of fourth-degree domestic violence assault to which she pleaded not guilty. Prosecutors asked for a no-contact order between Solo and her nephew and Ober which is in place for two years.

Unlike male professional sports players in similar legal trouble -- including several high-profile domestic violence cases in the NFL -- Solo was not suspended. Many critics said the failure to suspend Solo represented a double-standard in sports.

“All of us, in my opinion, have a fundamental right to be considered innocent until proven guilty. ... I know U.S. Soccer took a lot of heat,” Solo said when asked about the criticism. “But I am very grateful that they let due process play itself out. Those eight months were some of the worst months of my entire life.”

Solo's nephew, who is not being named because he is a minor, and his mother, Solo's half-sister, Teresa Ober, maintained to ABC News in a written statement that Solo was the aggressor.

“It does a disservice to domestic violence ... victims to suggest that one's physical size is a determinative of whether one is an abuser," the statement read in part.

The charges against Solo were dismissed in January shortly before a trial was scheduled to begin. Solo's nephew and half-sister failed to show up for two court-ordered, scheduled depositions. They say they were already deposed once and did not want to “re-live the traumatic events of that evening yet again."

Later that month, Solo, who did not seek charges against her nephew for his alleged assault, was involved in another incident that exposed her to criticism.

The Seattle Reign player was hit with a 30-day soccer suspension after her husband, former NFL player Jerramy Stevens, was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence while driving a U.S. Soccer team van in which Solo was a passenger.

"Clearly, I wasn’t thinking," Solo said when asked about the incident. “I mean, it was a horrible choice...I think I just wasn’t in a good place, emotionally, to even make good decisions. I mean, it’s not an excuse but I just, it was stupid. Should've called a taxi.”

Solo’s suspension from soccer was lifted on Saturday.

The goalkeeper is currently in Portugal training with the U.S. team which is preparing for a game against Norway next week. Her big dream is to compete this year in the World Cup and bring it home for the U.S. for the first time in since 1999.

“I'm finally able to sit down, confront those emotions, confront the anger, talk to somebody about what I've been going through, very traumatic events, over the last year," Solo said. "Just being able to speak to somebody has been really beneficial for me."

“You know, I can cry it out. I can try to understand it," she continued. "It’s been healthy for me to just talk it out and to deal with my emotions instead of just tucking them away.”

The outspoken Solo, a former “Dancing With the Stars” contestant, is no stranger to controversy.

In 2007, she publicly criticized the U.S. women’s soccer team coach, Greg Ryan, for benching her. The team suffered a decisive loss in its bid for the World Cup. In 2012, she slammed former U.S. women’s soccer player Brandi Chastain over that woman’s commentary about a women’s Olympic soccer game.

Solo described herself as a "work in progress" when asked how she handles knowing that she’s a role model who was suspended for a behavioral issue.

“I'm not going to be too hard on myself right now. I've beaten myself up about many things, and I'm in the process of healing so I can't beat myself up,” Solo said, “But you know, in terms of what you tell, what parents tell their kids, everybody makes mistakes. Everybody learns from them, hopefully, and continues to work on themselves.”

Solo said she’s now in a good place. Roberts asked her how she would like people to think about her, and Solo replied that she was insecure at times, shy, loving and loyal -- all contrary to her reputation.

“People actually think I'm arrogant ... extroverted, outspoken, which really is pretty opposite from my daily life,” she said. “That’s how I am on the field...I want people to realize I'm just human. And I make mistakes. And I want people to be able to forgive me if they're willing to do so.”

She added: “I just want to be the best athlete I can be, the best person I can be. And I know I have a lot of room for improvement.”

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