15 Celebrities Who Have Gone Public With Surviving Sexual Assault

Jason Pham
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15 Celebrities Who Have Gone Public With Surviving Sexual Assault
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Sexual assault is a difficult topic to breach. There’s the shock, shame and fear of not being believed. This might be why dozens of celebrities are bravely stepping forward and sharing their sexual assault stories in an effort to make the subject less taboo and easier to discuss.

MORE: My University Ignored My Rape Because I’m Trans: One Woman’s Story

Regardless if you’re a celebrity, college student or male, sexual violence, on average, affects more than 300,000 people a year, according to the Rape, Abuse, Incest National Network. In fact, every 98 seconds, an American is sexually assaulted. Change starts with conversation. Here are the stories of 15 celebrity sexual assault survivors willing to open up the discussion.

MORE: How Becoming a Mom Changed One Woman’s Perspective on Being Raped

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Ashley Graham
Ashley Graham

In her memoir, A New Model: What Confidence, Beauty, and Power Really Looks Like, the model opened up about a family friend molesting her when she was 10 years old. In the book, she revealed that the 18-year-old son of her parents' friends forced her to touch his erection as they dried off in a laundry room after a day swimming at the pool. Graham, who said she quickly fled from the room, wrote that the experience "left [her] with so many lingering questions."

Photo: Getty Images
Gabrielle Union
Gabrielle Union

At 19, the "Being Mary Jane" star was raped at gunpoint at a Payless shoe store where she worked. Years later, she opened up about the assault in response to the 2016 boycott of Nate Parker's "Birth of a Nation," which Union starred in. Viewers called for a boycott after a woman, who accused Parker of raping her while in college, committed suicide in 2012.

The situation led Union to tell her own story and explain that she understands why people chose not to see her film. "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.

Photo: Getty Images
Lady Gaga
Lady Gaga

While on Howard Stern's radio show in 2014, the singer revealed that she was raped by a man "20 years older" than her when she was 19. In 2016, the pop star, who said she never reported the assault, released the song "Til It Happens to You," which she co-wrote with Diane Warren for the Oscar-nominated documentary "The Hunting Ground," a film about sexual assault on college campuses.

Though Gaga has been open about her past, she also said she doesn't "want to be defined by it. "I’ll be damned if somebody’s gonna say that every creatively intelligent thing that I ever did is all boiled down to one dickhead that did that to me,” she said on Stern's show.

Photo: Getty Images
Amber Tamblyn
Amber Tamblyn

In an emotional Instagram post, "The Sisterhood of Traveling Pants" revealed that her ex-boyfriend sexually assaulted her in public while she was out at a club with some girlfriends. In the post, the actress wrote her ex (who was her boyfriend at the time) went up to her, reached under her skirt, grabbed her vagina and carried her out of the club as she kicked and screamed. The post was in response to a leaked "Access Hollywood" tape in which Donald Trump said his fame allowed him to "grab" women "by the pussy."

Photo: instagram / @amberrosetamblyn
Queen Latifah
Queen Latifah

In an interview with Essence, the actress said that, as a child, she was sexually assaulted by teenager who was caring for her at the time. She admitted that the experience led her to have a "commitment issue" when it came to relationships.

"He violated me,"she said. "I never told anybody; I just buried it as deeply as I could and kept people at an arm's distance."

Photo: instagram / @queenlatifah
Oprah Winfrey
Oprah Winfrey

When she was nine, the television host was raped by her cousin. Unfortunately, that wasn't the last time she was sexually assaulted either. Winfrey was sexually assaulted several times after, with one time, when she was 14, resulting in a pregnancy. Though she lost the baby soon after giving birth, Winfrey has been open about her experience and how it can help other survivors heal.

“Anybody who has been verbally abused or physically abused will spend a great deal of their life rebuilding their esteem,” she told the Irish Examiner. “Everybody has a story, and your story is as equally as valuable and important as my story.”

Photo: Getty Images
Madonna
Madonna

The "Vogue" singer had just moved to New York City from Michigan when she was raped at 19. In an interview with Howard Stern, the pop star revealed that she was on her way to dance class when the door was locked and she needed to use a payphone.

She asked a man on the street who gave her the money, but persuaded her to go to his car to use his phone. After the singer followed him, she was raped. In response to whether she reported the crime, Madonna said, "You've already been violated. It's just not worth it. It's too much humiliation."

Photo: Getty Images
AnnaLynne McCord
AnnaLynne McCord

In an essay for Cosmopolitan, the "90210" star (who played a rape survivor on the show), opened up about a time when a friend sexually assaulted her while she was sleeping. The assault occurred on one of McCord's first nights in Los Angeles, when she agreed to let a good friend crash in her apartment for the night.

"When I woke up, he was inside me," she wrote. "At first, I felt so disoriented and numb, I closed my eyes and pretended to be asleep. I wondered if I had done something to give him the wrong idea."

Photo: Getty Images
Amy Schumer
Amy Schumer

The comedian opened up to Marie Claire about two times when she experienced nonconsensual sex. The first time was when she lost her virginity and found her date inside her. "I looked down and realized he was inside of me. He was saying, ‘I’m so sorry’ and ‘I can’t believe I did this,'” she said.

The second experience was with her boyfriend who continued to pursue sex after Schumer told him "no." "I had another time with a boyfriend where I was saying, ‘No, stop,’ and it was just completely ignored," she said.

Photo: Getty Images
Kesha
Kesha

For years, the "Tik Tok" singer was embroiled in a grueling legal battle against music producer Dr. Luke, who Kesha accused of sexually assaulting and mentally abusing her. After the experience, the musician has been using her past as a point of empowerment for her and her fans.

“I think I am just like finding my voice in the world, and so the past three years has been me taking my center and myself back and my voice,” she told NOISEY.

Photo: Getty Images
Keke Palmer
Keke Palmer

While on "The Wendy Williams Show," the "Scream Queens" star opened about how she was sexually abused as a 5-year-old by a female cousin. While Palmer admitted that her mother is "very sad" that the assault happened, the actress revealed that her abuser is still in her life and that their relationship is, surprisingly, "very normal."

"I think that's the weird thing about it. Often we can't name the things in our life because they happened so quickly and we often have no knowledge of what went on," she told Williams.

Photo: Getty Images
Abigail Breslin
Abigail Breslin

In a series of moving Instagram posts on Sexual Assault Awareness Month, the "Dirty Dancing" star revealed that her rapist was someone she was in a romantic relationship with. In a list of reasons why she never reported the assault, Breslin admitted that she was in shock, feared she wouldn't be believed and afraid of the pain she would put on her family.

She also said she was clinically diagnosed with PTSD and jumps when someone touches her unexpectedly. In ending her post, the actress emphasized that all sexual assault stories matter—reported or not.

Photo: Getty Images
Shia Labeouf
Shia Labeouf

During his #IAMSORRY performance art in 2014, when the actor sat silently in a room with a paper bag reading "I am not famous anymore" covering his head, Labeouf was raped by a female audience member. He told Dazed & Confused that the woman, whose boyfriend waited outside the installation, came in, whipped Labeouf's legs, stripped him of his clothing and raped him.

As the assault happened on Valentine's Day, the actor said his girlfriend was waiting outside to see him. "When she came in she asked for an explanation, and I couldn't speak, so we both sat with this unexplained trauma silently. It was painful," he said.

Photo: Getty Images
Tyler Perry
Tyler Perry

In an interview with Oprah Winfrey, the director opened up about several sexual assaults he experienced as a child. When he was five, while building a birdhouse with an adult male neighbor, the "Madea" creator said the man put his hands in his pants. A few years later, a male nurse a man Perry knew from sexually assaulted him by performing oral sex on him.

When he was 10, while at friend's house, his friend's mother told him to leave. As Perry tried to open the door, he realized it was locked which is when the mother, who was dressed in lingerie, put the keys inside her and told him to retrieve them. "This is so disgusting, you know, what these people did to this little boy," he told Winfrey.

Photo: instagram / @tylerperry
Pamela Anderson
Pamela Anderson

At the launch of the Pamela Anderson Foundation, an organization dedicated to "human, animal and environmental rights," the "Baywatch" star revealed that she was molested from ages 6 to 10 by a female babysitter.

The actress said she was raped again when she was 12 by the older brother of her friend's boyfriend who was 25. When she was a freshman in high school, Anderson also said that her boyfriend raped her with six of his friends. "Needless to say, I had a hard time trusting humans. I just wanted off this Earth," she said.

Photo: Getty Images
  • Ashley Graham
  • Gabrielle Union
  • Lady Gaga
  • Amber Tamblyn
  • Queen Latifah
  • Oprah Winfrey
  • Madonna
  • AnnaLynne McCord
  • Amy Schumer
  • Kesha
  • Keke Palmer
  • Abigail Breslin
  • Shia Labeouf
  • Tyler Perry
  • Pamela Anderson

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