There Are No Perfect Victims When It Comes to Sexual Assault

There Are No Perfect Victims When It Comes to Sexual Assault

In a recent video for The Root, actress Gabrielle Union spoke about her personal experience with sexual assault and how society only seems to act when “perfect victims” step forward.

Union has been open about her assault in the past, sharing in 2014 that she was raped at gunpoint when she was 19. In the video, she says that while her rapist has served 25 out of his sentenced 33 years, she doesn’t believe that rapists can be rehabilitated: “I don’t think rape is one of those crimes that there’s enough years you can do, there’s enough suffering that you can experience to understand that you killed me that day.”

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Though Union does think we’re seeing a change in how society reacts to sexual assault, she points out that women of color aren’t taken as seriously when they come forward: “I think luckily what we’re seeing now is a cultural shift toward real acknowledgement of sexual violence, sexual assault, and sexual harassment. There were women from now, the late ‘70s, early ‘80s who complained about Harvey Weinstein’s behavior but it wasn’t until we had, in some people’s minds, the ‘perfect victims.’ And the pain of Hollywood white royalty was prioritized. It sent a very a loud message and clear message to the rest of the world that unless society deems you a ‘perfect victim,’ your pain is quite tolerable. But the reality is there are no perfect victims.”

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Union also touched on this in a recent interview with The New York Times, saying that while “the floodgates have opened for white men, I don’t think it’s a coincidence whose pain has been taken seriously.”

Union told the Times, “If those people hadn’t been Hollywood royalty, if they hadn’t been approachable. If they hadn’t been people who have had access to parts and roles and true inclusion in Hollywood, would we have believed?”

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