Gabrielle Union Wants Victims of Sexual Assault to Know This
While her social media message was powerful on its own, the star isn't done speaking up about the issue. "It's always important to remind people, 'I am a survivor of sexual violence and sexual assault," she told InStyle at the God's Love We Deliver and Michael Kors celebration on Monday in New York.
She explained that while she first revealed her story "20 years" ago, it still surprises people. She wrote about her assault, which took place in a shoe store where she worked during college, in a Los Angeles Times op-ed lastSeptember.
"There is a light at the end of the tunnel. There is help. There is healing. This doesn't have to define you. But I have to keep talking about it because there are so many rape apologists in my timeline, so many people who feel like if you wear a certain thing, you're less likely to be [raped]—no. It's not true," she told InStyle at the N.Y.C. event. "I was raped at work. I heard from kids who were raped in their snowsuits. Anyone, anywhere, at any time can be the victim of sexual violence—male, female, boy, girl, anyone."
She expects the #MeToo movement—where people who have experienced sexual harassment are sharing the hashtag on social media—to "spark a lot of conversations" that can help facilitate societal change.
"Everyone's pain is real. Everyone's journey is real. And we have to just keep driving home that point," she continued.
While she urges victims who are comfortable with speaking up to do so, she stresses that the decision to share is up to each individual. "You don't have to share it. You don't owe anybody anything. You owe it to yourself to recognize your own pain and to seek help and heal. That doesn't mean you have to share it with the world or share it on social media. If that's your journey, awesome, but it doesn't have to be and it doesn't make you a better or worse victim," she said.
"It means you suffered trauma and how you deal with it is how you deal with it and all of it is the right way. In your time, you will figure that out, what's best for you. But it doesn't have to match anybody else's to be real or valid—doesn't make you a good or bad person," she said. "I'm glad that era of misogyny is hopefully coming to an end."