Photo Credit: Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic
Bad Boys II and Army Wives star Gabrielle Union is not only a busy working actress but also a committed advocate for victms of sexual assault -- volunteering her time at the rape treatment center at UCLA. The reason? Union is a victim herself, having been raped when she was 19. And, in the wake of Rihanna's controversial "Man Down" music video -- which depicts the singer killing a man in cold blood for sexually assaulting her -- Union has taken to her Twitter feed to defend Rihanna and praise the video for bringing an important issue to the fore.
"During my rape I tried 2 shoot my rapist, but I missed," she wrote in a follow-up tweet. "Over the yrs I realized tht killin my rapist wouldve added insult 2 injury." She continued: "The DESIRE 2 kill someone whose abused/raped u is understandable, bt unless its self defense n the moment 2 save ur life, just ADDS 2 ur troubles."
While Union doesn't support taking the law into one's own hands, she does commend Rihanna for sparking such an important debate. "#mandown video did a GREAT job of getting the ENTIRE world TALKING abt RAPE," Union tweeted. "I hope tht it leads 2 HEALING & PREVENTS RAPE."
In 2009, Dr. Laura Berman interviewed Union on her radio show about the trauma of sexual assault, and Union told her story in horrifying detail. Union was working a summer job in a store, when a gun-toting man came in to rob the place, while in the midst of the robbery, decided to rape Union.
"During the commission of the rape, like a dingbat, he put the gun down," Union told Dr. Laura. "And the second that fool put the gun down and had the nerve to ask me, 'Oh, do you mind handing me my gun,' I came back into myself... I grabbed the gun and did my best Starsky and Hutch impression. I tried to do my best to kill him, stop him. Unfortunately, I missed and we ended up having a battle for the gun and I was beaten beyond recognition. Luckily, after threatening to kill me, he left and he was caught two weeks later and he is now serving 33 years."
Union told Dr. Laura that she did have to testify in a grand jury, but once her rapist was convicted, she found a great sense of peace and relief. Justice had been served. She has since devoted herself to helping victims of sexual trauma.
When Dr. Laura Berman asked Union's advice for survivors, Union responded: "There's no timetable. That is the biggest thing. It's such an uncomfortable experience for obviously everyone involved, but I think a lot of your loved ones don't know what to say. A lot of people mistake rape for sex, likening it to, 'Well, I didn't want to do it last night, but I did it,' and putting it in that same sort of category. It's not sex, it's violence. It's a terribly violent act, and people start to push you towards, 'Get over it' -- and it's just not that simple."