Hollywood actress Gabrielle Union has been opening up about being sexually assaulted at the young age of 19. The traumatic experience caused her to have PTSD, so Union is sharing her personal story as part of celebrating the 2018 National Mental Health Awareness Month.
Union’s rape was first revealed last year when she released the book We’re Going to Need More Wine. The memoir detailed many issues like her battle with infertility, but she also described how she was working at a Payless shoe store only to be forced into a back room and raped while a gun was being pointed at her.
“What happened was graphic and violent and life-changing and altering,” Union said, according to a video by Nightline.
“The woman in that back room is dead and I’m the phoenix that rose from the ashes.”
The actress says it was like an out-of-body experience, but she was determined to survive the sexual assault. She also admitted that she wanted to kill her rapist.
“That me and the me on the ground getting raped became one and I grabbed the gun and I did my best to try and kill him because I really felt I was about to die,” Union explained. “So it was either going to be him or me, and it wasn’t going to be me, not on that day.”
That interview took place in 2017. Now in 2018, Gabrielle Union has released a new video for The Child Mind Institute, which says its research aims to unlock “the secrets of the developing brain and changing the way we diagnose and treat mental health and learning disorders.” In the video, Union discusses the struggle she faced with PTSD after being raped as a teenager.
“Hey guys, it’s Gabrielle Union, and I’m here to tell you that I am a PTSD survivor, thriver, bad ass, MF-er. I was diagnosed with PTSD at 19 after I was raped at gunpoint and I didn’t let it stop me,” Union said in the YouTube video.
“I didn’t want it to define my whole life and it doesn’t have to. Asking for help, needing help doesn’t make you weak or less worthy of love or support or success. You can literally be anything you want to be. PTSD isn’t a death sentence.”
The actress went on to explain that she was detailing her experience so that other people feeling the effects of PTSD would not feel alone.
“You don’t have to be alone or feel isolated. There are so many of us out there who are dealing with exactly what you are dealing with and it doesn’t make you weak,” Union shared.
“It doesn’t make you anything but human. And we all have something and you might even become a successful actress and best-selling author and be dope because that’s what you deserve.”
Union’s video ended with a child asking that people donate money to The Child Mind Institute. The organization also provided links for those wanting to learn more about PTSD. They also provided a guide to coping with traumatic events.