Gabrielle Union details ‘agony’ of living with anxiety and PTSD after being raped at 19

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 (Getty Images)
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Gabrielle Union has opened up about how anxiety and post traumatic stress disorder affect her day-to-day life after she was raped at 19 years old.

On 7 June, the Cheaper by the Dozen actress shared an emotional message to her Instagram alongside a clip of herself on the red carpet.

“As a rape survivor, I have battled PTSD for 30 years,” she began the post. “Living with anxiety and panic attacks all these years has never been easy. There’s times the anxiety is sol bad it shrinks my life.” Leaving the house or making a left hand turn at an uncontrolled light can fill me with terror.”

Union explained how simple tasks such as leaving the house or making a left turn at a traffic signal can “fill me with with terror.” Her anxiety can also turn her excitement about a party or event into “pure agony,”

“When we tell y’all what we are experiencing, please believe us the 1st time we mention it,” she continued. “No, it’s not like being nervous and everyone experiences and deals with anxiety differently, and that’s OK. I don’t need you to try to ‘fix’ me.”

The Bring It On alum shared that she hopes her message will help those living with anxiety know that “they aren’t alone” or “being extra” with their triggers.

“I see you, I FEEL you and there is so much love for you. Always,” she added. “Love and light good people. Be good to each other out there.”

The 49-year-old mother of four, who is married to Dwyane Wade, has previously spoken up about being a rape survivor in her 2017 memoir, We’re Going to Need More Wine. In an essay excerpt published in Glamour, Union described how she was raped at gunpoint while working at a Payless shoe store when she was 19 years old.

In the wake of #MeToo movement, Union has spoken out against victim-blaming, saying that rape survivors should not be blamed for staying silent about their assault, and shouldn’t have their decision to dress a certain way questioned.

In September 2020, Union detailed in an interview with Women’s Health how the pandemic and ongoing racial unrest after the death of George Floyd had sent her PTSD into “overdrive”.

To help her cope in these moments, Union said she relies on something she calls her “emotional fix-me toolkit”.

“I break out my emotional fix-me toolkit, and I try to run through all the situations. I call it my ‘what’s the likelihood of X happening?’ method,” she said at the time. “If I’m fearful about going into a store because I’m anxious about being robbed, I’ll make myself feel better by going to one where there will be witnesses to cut down those chances.

“It’s been this way since ’92,” Union said. “It’s just something I do; second nature.”

RAINN is the largest anti-sexual violence organization in the United States. If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, help is available. RAINN offers confidential 24/7 support at the National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1 (800) 656-4673.

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