By Meghan Overdeep
Updated Jan 23, 2018 @ 8:00 am

Just a few days after she alluded to being sexually assaulted on social media, Lucy Hale says she has even more respect for the men and women who have come forward with their #MeToo stories.

Speaking with People at an event on Monday, the 28-year-old Pretty Little Liars star discussed the "awesome" wave of brave individuals who are sharing their heartbreaking accounts of sexual misconduct.

“I feel grateful to have people that I look up to that are speaking up about things,” said Hale. “Not just women — I think men have sometimes suffered the same way that women have. And as long as a conversation is going or a conversation has started, which it has, that’s the best thing you could ever ask for because that makes people feel not alone. I think if powerful people can make a difference by speaking up, which they are, that will trickle down hopefully.”

In now-deleted posts shared on both her Instagram and Twitter pages last Thursday, Hale hinted at her own #MeToo experience. “I never understood sexual assault until tonight. I always sympathized, but I never felt the pain of it until right now. My dignity and pride was broken," she wrote. "I am completely at a loss of words. I feel for anyone that has felt this pain that I feel right now. But I promise. I will not let a moment go by that I don’t try to make a difference.”

Hale confirmed that she's taking that promise seriously. “My whole thing is I never want to be someone who makes it all shiny and rainbows all the time, because it’s not,” she told People. “No one ever feels like that 24/7.”

And in those unavoidable dark times, Hale said she relies heavily on her fans. "There can be times when I feel like no one in the world gets something, and I can read something through one of the people who supports me and I’m like 'Holy sh*t. I am not alone in any of this,’" she revealed. "They’ve stuck by me through the good and the bad. I’m so grateful."