Gabrielle Union Gets Candid About Suffering From PTSD Due to Sexual Assault
By Antoinette Bueno
Gabrielle Union says opening up about her sexual assault has triggered others to share their own similar stories of abuse with her.
The 45-year-old star covers Redbook's March issue, in which she talks about going on a book tour for her best-selling memoir, We're Going to Need More Wine. In the book, Union recounts being raped at gunpoint by a stranger at a Payless store where she worked during her sophomore year of college. Union tells the magazine that her PTSD was triggered after a number of fans read her book and felt compelled to share their own experiences.
“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 recalls. "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.’"
Not surprisingly, the stories took a toll on Union, who stresses that she doesn't regret women opening up to her.
"I cried a lot," she says, " 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.”
Union is similarly candid about speaking with a therapist, and shares how she's been able to develop confidence after years of doubting her self-worth. She says one key element is "owning up to [her own] b.s." and apologizing to others.
"I have to acknowledge how I’ve hurt people and make amends," she admits. "I started with those closest to me, but there’s a line of people to get to. I was at a Janet Jackson concert and ran into an executive I used to work with and just had to say, ‘I’m so sorry.’ I included in the apology specifics, so they knew I understood why I was wrong.... Then I listened about the thing that I did, which I didn’t even realize I was doing. I’m not saying this is easy, but it’s led to my being incorporated back into some people’s lives. Not everyone will make up with you, but that has to be OK.”
She also shares that she creates a vision board every year to help realize her goals and all the hard work she's put in to accomplish them. Union says one of her dreams is to have a child with her husband, NBA star Dwyane Wade.
"I’ve had the positive [pregnancy test] stick, but also a number of miscarriages, so maybe I just have to go more specific and show a woman with a human being traveling through her orifices," she says. "I’ll put those things back on this year’s board and see what happens.”
"Whether or not someone has kids is such a personal question, and people -- especially in this day and age -- feel very entitled to not only know what you are using your vagina for in terms of reproducing other human beings, but who have you invited up there," she told ET.