In Honor Of Sexual Assault Awareness Month: Famous Women Who’ve Spoken Out About Their Abuse

April 1, 2014  |  
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It takes a strong woman to come forward and open up publicly about abuse and these famous women who are victims of rape are some of the most notable. As we begin Sexual Assault Awareness Month this April, we take a moment to recognize their courage as a reminder that victims don’t have to be silenced.


Gabrielle Union

Gabrielle Union is used to discussing her personal life with the media. During an interview with ABC’s “The View,” Union revealed that she was raped at the age of 19. Working at a Payless shoe store, the “Being Mary Jane” star was attacked by an employee from another store. He also raped and robbed another woman before turning himself in and is now serving a 33-year sentence. Union, who never wanted to be labeled as a victim, has become an advocate for survivors of assault.


Ashley Judd

Last year Ashley Judd contemplated running for public office, but during a speech at George Washington University, instead of talking about politics, Judd spoke out about being a three-time rape survivor. In her memoir, the Kiss the Girls actress wrote about a painful time in her childhood when she was lured to an empty building by an old man who promised her a quarter for the pinball machine and instead raped her and during her speech Judd urged other survivors of rape and assault to not be silent. “We all have the courage to talk about it, because we’re as sick as our secrets and the shame keeps us in isolation.”


Teri Hatcher

When she was just five years old, Teri Hatcher’s uncle began raping her and the abuse lasted for several years. However, the “Desperate Housewives” star only gathered the courage to come forward as an adult after she learned that her uncle also raped a 14-year-old who later committed suicide. Her statement about her experiences helped put her uncle away behind bars for 14 years.



Born in Bay City, Michigan, a 19-year-old Madonna moved to New York City to pursue her dreams of becoming a star. While most of her story since relocating has been well chronicled, Madonna recently revealed that she was raped during her first year in the Big Apple. In a cover essay story with Harper’s Bazaar, the “Like A Virgin” singer revealed she was dragged up to a rooftop of a building at knifepoint and raped. Determined to make it in New York, Madonna said, “It was hard and it was lonely, and I had to dare myself every day to keep going.”


Oprah Winfrey

Part of the reason Oprah Winfrey was able to become a talk show maven with millions of devoted daily viewers was her ability to relate to her guests and her audience. Always an open book herself, Winfrey has spoke about a traumatic time in her childhood where she was attacked. Just nine years old, “The Color Purple” star was raped by an older cousin. Winfrey revealed that the experience caused her to be promiscuous as a teen.


Pamela Anderson

While many teenage girls lose their virginity to their high school sweethearts or childhood boyfriends, Pamela Anderson’s first time was non-consensual. The “Baywatch” bombshell revealed that she mentally blocked out the traumatic incident for most of her life and only recently told her mother well after she became an adult. “Looking back, it was awful,” Anderson said. “I felt like everyone knew that I had had sex, like it was tattooed on my forehead.”



School is supposed to be a safe haven for children where they can learn but for R&B singer Fantasia, she was anything but safe. The “When I See U” singer revealed another student inside of the school auditorium raped her in the ninth grade. When she went home to tell her parents, she was hurt even more by one of her parents’ reaction. Her mother comforted her and held her but her father had the opposite reaction. He said, “If you wouldn’t have been running around with those little dresses on it would have never happened.”


Fiona Apple

Singer/songwriter Fiona Apple went through a traumatic experience at the age of 12 that left her with emotional scars for years to come. On her way back from school one day, the “Fast As You Can” singer was followed into her New York City building by a strange man. After getting off of the elevator, the man came from out of the stairwell and raped her in the corridor. Because of this, Apple developed an eating disorder purposely slimming her body down, which she saw as “bait.”


Mackenzie Phillips

Mackenzie Phillips came from folk music royalty. Her father John Phillips was the frontman for the Mamas & the Papas but instead of protecting his daughter from harm, he was the cause of it. During an interview with Oprah Winfrey, the “One Day At A Time” star revealed that her late father raped her. As an adult, she confronted him by saying, “We have to talk about when you raped me.” To which he allegedly replied, “You mean when we made love?”


Mary J. Blige

Mary J. Blige was crowned the queen of hip-hop soul almost immediately after emerging in the music industry. Fans everywhere related to the pain and sorrow in the “Be Happy” singer’s voice. Blige has opened up about how she felt after being raped at just five years old by a friend of the family and how it affected her well into adulthood. “I remember feeling, literally right before it happened, I just could not believe that this person was going to do this to me,” Blige said. “That thing followed me all my life. The shame of thinking my molestation was my fault – it led me to believe I wasn’t worth anything.”


Anne Heche

Anne Heche has opened up about her troubled childhood and the effects it had on her even in adulthood. Repeatedly raped by her own father as a toddler until she was 12 years old, Heche also contracted herpes. The “Six Days Seven Nights” star said her mother assumed it was a diaper rash and refused to take her to the doctor. However, Heche and her mother have been estranged from each other after she confronted her about the sexual abuse she experienced and her mother maintains that Heche is lying.


Fran Drescher

Fran Drescher is known for her distinctive laugh but in 1985, an incident that happened to her was certainly no laughing matter. Two men broke into her Los Angeles home. While one ransacked the place, the other one raped Drescher and a friend. Her then-husband Peter Jacobson was tied up, beaten and forced to watch the entire incident. “The Nanny” star said it took a long time for her to recover and even longer to open up about the rape to the public.


Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou is perhaps one of the greatest poets of our time but as a child, she survived such a traumatic incident that it left her mute. After her parents split, Angelou was sent to live with her father’s mother. During a visit back home, her mother’s boyfriend raped a seven-year-old Angelou. Her uncles took justice into their own hands and killed her attacker. Angelou remained mute for years.


Tori Amos

Singer/songwriter Tori Amos began her career in music in the early 80’s. As with most artists, she drew upon on her past for song material. When she was 21-years-old, Amos performed at a Los Angeles bar and once done, she gave a lift to a patron who wanted a ride home. Instead he held out a knife and raped Amos. The experience was chronicled in her song “Me and Gun.”


Sheila E.

Sheila E. grew up in a household filled with music. She often joined her father, who was a percussionist himself, on stage but not everything in her childhood was picture perfect. At the age of five years old, she was raped by a babysitter. Molested some years later, Sheila E. credits giving her heart to the Lord, which gave her the freedom to let go the burdens that she had been carrying around much of her life.

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  • susieq2u

    Happened to me and it does help to read that these women overcame it and became successful.

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  • LBD

    They didn’t put down any older ones but there are some famous ones such as Sandra Dee and Zsa Zsa Gabor that should also be on this list.

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  • ButterfliesNFairies

    Mary J. Blige was not raped. She was touched inappropriately by someone once.

    • demi

      Whats your point…..seriously

  • Farrah

    I can’t say I’m mad at Maya Angelou’s uncles.

  • chanela

    okay sooo…. basically all the black women in hollywood?

    • demi

      I think alot of black women are sexually assaulted more than we know, but they just don’t tell, because black women ,especially, tend to get blamed for everything. so they just keep quiet. Its probably an epidemic in the black community

  • Shawndrea Rachelle

    This list felt so long. Sexual assault should get a death sentence, considering how long term the damage is.

  • Just saying!!

    By the way, sexual assault month is about men too so maybe we can include something to that affect. I know Tyler Perry has spoken out against his experiences, and I’m sure there have had to be others to speak out against it who aren’t victims themselves but maybe know someone affected by it.

    • bvictorian

      Thanks for that reminder. That’s a great point and we’ll be sure to post some things on men and sexual assault as well.

    • Slim

      That would be good but other than Tyler Perry I can’t think of any very famous men who have spoke out about rape. The only other person that comes to mind is The Game. He wasn’t raped but his sister was.

      • ksmall

        don lemon has spoken about being raped as a child by a family member i believe it was. there are obviously more, but especially in the black community rape is so shameful for a man and there is the constant fear that our homophobic culture will label them as being gay. who’d want to speak out with all that stacked against them when they see how awful women who speak out are treated.

        • Britney Robinson

          Don lemon is gay. And Tyler Perry is rumored to be I’ve heard stories that in Atlanta he has been at gay strip clubs(This is from people I personally know not tabloids.)

  • Just saying!!

    The Mackenzie story just made me sick. Ugh how foul!

    • Just saying!!

      OMG and Fran’s story with her husband being forced to watch!? People are fricking sick. And how does that happen anyway? I’m assuming they had guns because they were outnumbered.

  • CB3

    Women from all walks of life are at risk of sexual assult. It’s such a tragedy that girls are taught not to be raped instead of boys being taught to never rape.

    • slim

      But who would teach them? Fathers aren’t around like they use to be and let’s be honest many women have a ”my son can do know wrong” mentality.
      I have two friends that had sons accused of forcing a girl into oral sex. They are 15/16. The girl was 13. She came over to hang with the 15 year old’s younger brother. BOTH of my friends blamed the girl and said she wanted to do it. Nothing happen to them (the girl’s mother didn’t go to the police) and they boys still stand by the ”she was a hoe” anyway talk. I just shake my head.
      When it comes to rape (and domestic violence), both men AND women will always blame the victim. That will never change

      • CB3

        So true, it does seem like something that will never change. Victim blaming is all to common. “She’s a hoe, she was wearing this or that, she knew what would happen”. It’s always put on the victim and never the attacker. And you are so right alot of mother act as if their son could do no wrong.

        • slim

          Yup. There are three things that will ALWAYS be around: Racism, Homophobia, and Sexism. Things may get ”better” but they won’t change. People will just hide their ignorance better but still pass it on to their children

      • ksmall

        just one more women are and will continue to be oppressed. and even boys with dads around don’t really have that conversation like they should. i HATE when i hear stories like your friend. like why not raise a boy to be the kind of man you’d want for yourself or your daughter? and then wanna complain they can’t find a good one or all men are bad. guess why….

        • slim

          Yeah, I was disgusted when they told me about the girls accusation. Personally I believe they forced her but I don’t push the issue because I do love these boys. I’ve known them all their life but it makes me sad. Also my friends raised their sons to be like the men they date. The men they date are abusive and losers. I see those young boys going down the same path. Damn shame