Excerpts from “Solo: A Memoir of Hope” by Hope Solo about her experience on Dancing with the Stars.
tl;dr Maks slapped Hope.
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He manhandled me in rehearsals from the start, pushing me, whacking my stomach, bending my arms roughly. I thought that was just how it went—how dancers worked with each other. I was tough; I could take it.
But it kept getting worse. One day, Maks was trying to put me in a certain position and hit my stomach so hard with his open palm that I had a red handprint there for the rest of the day. When I told Adrian, he was livid. Adrian had seen his mother abused when he was a child, and men being physically violent with women was something he couldn’t tolerate. But I felt so reliant on Maks that I defended him and minimized his behavior. I viewed him as my coach, and I’d had asshole coaches before. I could tough it out.
The day after Maks’s outburst supposedly saved us for another week, we had a team rehearsal: there were six couples left, and we were split into two teams. Maks and I were teamed with Ricki Lake and Derek Hough and Rob Kardashian and Cheryl Burke. In rehearsal, Maks was rough and mean with me, flinging and pushing me around. I could see the shocked looks on the faces of the other dancers. So maybe this isn t normal behavior, I thought. Maks could also see their concern he stormed out, while I tried to hold it together. Derek stepped in and worked with me the rest of the day.
Maks had injured his toe and was in pain, so another pro, Teddy, came in to work with me. We had fun together, and I enjoyed working with someone who kept things light; but our playfulness seemed to irritate Maks. By the end of the week, he was able to dance, but his mood hadn’t improved. Late on a Friday night, he was getting angrier and angrier about one particular move that I was struggling with.
He wanted my head in a specific position. To achieve that, he slapped me across the face. Hard. My huge dangling earring whipped into my face. I knew the camera was rolling, so I checked my impulse to fight back: I knew if I stood up for myself, it would end up on the show, making me look like a villain again, yelling at “poor Maks.” I walked out of the room, away from the camera, and took off my mike. Maks followed me and took his mike off.
“Don’t you ever fucking put your hand on me again,” I said.
He was extremely apologetic. I didn’t care. My ear was ringing as I walked out, shaking. I had just been hit, and I had been worried about how I would come off looking on television. This was a twisted world. I just wanted to get through the damn show. I didn’t want any more drama. I didn’t want to be the villain on a hugely popular TV show. I didn’t want to get hit by my partner. I had just wanted to learn to dance.