11 Celebrities Who Have Spoken Out About Sexual Assault

11 Celebrities Who Have Spoken Out About Sexual Assault

We’re in a new era of the #MeToo movement. Christine Blasey Ford’s allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh have reignited the conversation surrounding sexual assault. For survivors, the current news cycle can be distressing, forcing them to relive what happened to them. Some survivors are inspired by Dr. Ford’s testimony and are coming forward to friends and loved ones about what happened to them. Often, the reaction is not what they expected.

“People can be traumatized, not just by the event itself but again later if the people and institutions they disclose to respond negatively,” says Jennifer J. Freyd, PhD, a professor of psychology at the University of Oregon in Eugene and a 2018–2019 fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University in California. (A university, law enforcement, or the government are examples of these institutions.) The impacts of sexual assault itself can last for a lifetime, putting survivors at an increased risk for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, depression, maladaptive behaviors such as eating disorders, and heart disease, says Dr. Freyd.

For someone who may be inspired by other people, including celebrities who have spoken out about their experiences, try to prepare for their possible response and put a coping strategy in place if that reaction is negative.

Why might that happen? Ideas on how a survivor should behave are pervasive — and damaging. “There’s the thought that, Surely any victim would do this or that. But what they say any victim would have done is actually really rare,” says Matt J. Gray, PhD, a clinical psychology professor at the University of Wyoming in Laramie and an expert in sexual violence prevention and traumatic stress. One of those actions is reporting the incident to police — or even telling anyone at all. In a June 2018 report authored by Dr. Gray and colleagues, 27 percent of the 1,913 students surveyed reported experiencing a sexual assault while at the university. However, half who were assaulted didn’t tell anyone, and only about 7 percent told law enforcement.

“The biggest concern [that] I think prevents disclosure is the fear of not being believed,” says Gray. “If you look at the comments under any article on the internet, you see that this isn’t an invalid fear.” What’s more, when people recount their sexual assaults, they may express anger, be confused about what happened, or appear that they’re not telling the truth. “There are a whole host of reactions that may lead people to not believe them,” says Freyd.

As you listen to women and men coming forward with their own stories, the best thing you can do is offer support. If someone discloses a sexual assault to you, it can be tough to know exactly how to respond. “Say, ‘I’m sorry that happened to you. I believe you. How can I support you?’” says Gray. “Then be prepared to listen.”

For celebrities who come forward, they help fellow survivors know that they’re not alone. Here are 11 who have taken this step.

1. Alyssa Milano
2. Gabrielle Union
3. Lucy Hale
4. Lena Dunham
5. Lady Gaga
6. AnnaLynne McCord
7. Amy Schumer
8. Brendan Fraser
9. Terry Crews
10. Viola Davis
11. Evan Rachel Wood

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