PTSD Survivor Gabrielle Union Tells Her 19-Year-Old Self There’s Life After Sexual Assault

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If you could provide any words of wisdom to your younger self, what would they be?

For 45-year-old Gabrielle Union, the words of encouragement would be aimed at her 19-year-old self. At that age, Union was raped at gunpoint and diagnosed with PTSD following that horrific ordeal.

It is currently Mental Health Awareness Month, and to help quell the stigma surrounding mental health issues and learning disorders, the actress (and a number of other stars), have teamed up with The Child Mind Institute for a campaign called #MyYoungerSelf. If she could say anything to herself around that mentally and physically taxing time, the Breaking In star said that she would say that her diagnosis for post-traumatic stress disorder doesn’t make her weak, and that she didn’t have to isolate herself in order to deal with it.

“I’m here to tell you that I am a PTSD survivor, thriver, bada– mf’er,” she said in the homemade video. “I was diagnosed with PTSD at 19 after I was raped at gunpoint, and I didn’t let it stop me. 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. You don’t have to be alone or feel isolated. There’s so many of us out there who are dealing with exactly what you’re dealing with. It doesn’t make you weak. It doesn’t make you anything but human, and we all have something. You might even become a successful actress and best-selling author and, I don’t know, be dope because that’s what you deserve.”

Union was able to deal with her PTSD by going to therapy, and by speaking on her sexual trauma openly and through her book, We’re Going to Need More Wine, the actress has been able to help others go through their own form of therapy.

On my book tour, a lot of cities felt like a revival — there were so many disclosures of abuse during the Q&A portion of talks and during the book signing; even as I was driving away people were flagging down my car in tears,” she told Entertainment Tonight in February. “I didn’t realize how big the need was for so many people to just get it out, to have someone look them in the eye and say, ‘I believe you.'”

“I cried a lot,” she added, when speaking of taking in other people’s stories. “I Skyped a lot with my life coach, because the horrors that I was taking in triggered my PTSD. But I feel a responsibility to offer that sense of safety and support. And luckily I have the means to help myself at the end of the night.”

Check out The Child Mind Institute’s #MyYoungerSelf campaign video below and get more information about it from Childmind.org.

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