Gabrielle Union Describes “Agony” of Anxiety and PTSD After Being Raped at 19

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Gabrielle Union discussed the long-lasting effects of being raped as a teenager, saying that at times her anxiety “is so bad it shrinks my life.” Read her powerful post.

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Content warning: This story discusses sexual assault.

Thirty years later, Gabrielle Union is continuing to navigate life after a traumatic event.

The Cheaper by the Dozen actress offered a glimpse into some of her personal struggles in an Instagram post on June 7, explaining how posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and anxiety affect her day-to-day life in the spotlight after she was raped at age 19. 

“As a rape survivor, I have battled PTSD for 30 years,” she began in her post. “Living with anxiety and panic attacks all these years has never been easy. There’s times the anxiety is so bad it shrinks my life.” 

Union said that leaving her house or even making an unprotected left turn at a traffic signal can “fill me with terror.” Her anxiety can also turn her excitement about going to a party, such as the Met Gala, into “pure agony.” 

“When we tell y’all what we are experiencing, please believe us the 1st time we mention it,” she wrote. “No, it’s not like being nervous and everyone experiences and deals with anxiety differently, and that’s OK.”

She said she wanted to share her journey so that everyone living with anxiety knows they “aren’t alone” or “being extra.”

Union added, “I see you, I FEEL you and there is so much love for you. Always.”

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The actress, who has been married to Dwyane Wade for seven years, previously opened up about being raped in her book of essays, We’re Going to Need More Wine: Stories That Are Funny, Complicated, and True. In an excerpt published by Glamour in 2017, Union said she was raped at gunpoint while working at a Payless shoe store when she was 19 years old.

Over the years, she’s spoken about her decision to “embrace” being a survivor of sexual assault. 

“I have to keep talking out because people feel like they’re the only ones,” she told E! News in 2017. “They feel like are on an island by themselves; they feel like they are screaming into a hurricane and nobody is listening and I am just trying to say, ‘I’m listening. I hear you. I’ve been there, and there is light at the end of the tunnel.'”

For free, confidential help, call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-4673 or visit rainn.org.

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