Celebrity Gabrielle Union Sends a Powerful Message to Fellow Sexual Assault Survivors: “I Believe You. I Support You” By Olivia Bahou Olivia Bahou Facebook Olivia Solomon is a New York-based writer and editor who covers all things fashion, lifestyle, celebrity, and pop culture. She was previously the Assistant Digital Editor for InStyle, and her work has appeared in many national publications. InStyle's editorial guidelines Updated on October 11, 2016 @ 08:15AM Pin Share Tweet Email Photo: David Crotty/Patrick McMullan via Getty Gabrielle Union looks positively radiant on the November 2016 cover of Essence, but there’s so much more to this story than the high-gloss photographs. The Birth of a Nation star opens up about tackling controversy and “rising above the drama” in the powerful cover story. In the controversial new film, Union plays a woman who was raped, which was difficult for the sexual assault survivor herself to portray. Her message to her fellow survivors is simple: Follow your heart. “As a rape survivor and as an advocate, I cannot shy away from this responsibility because the conversation got difficult. I don’t want to put myself above anyone’s pain or triggers,” she told Essence. “Every victim or survivor, I believe you. I support you. I support you if you don’t want to see the film. I absolutely understand and respect that. I can’t sell the film. This movie has always been about more than one person, and for the outspoken feminist advocates and allies who risked a lot to be a part of this project—Aja Naomi King, Aunjanue Ellis, Penelope Ann Miller—we are okay if you have to sit this one out, and we’re okay if you don’t.” The 42-year-old also opened up about being a step-mom to husband Dwayne Wade’s teenage son. “Teens get teen-y. It’s harder. I never understood that. ‘You won’t sleep.’ I always associated that phrase with babies. Crying, teething babies,” she said. “Until they walk through the door, I’m terrified. Sometimes I just want to stay off my timeline, because it makes those waits until they walk through the door a thousand times worse. Just envisioning them as a hashtag.” Dennis Leupold Read Union’s powerful cover story on Essence.