8 Celebs Who Bravely Came Forward in 2014 With Personal Stories of Past Abuse
Sexual assault is a serious, but an unfortunately misunderstood crime. When misinformation is spread, many people are confused about what constitutes sexual assault and how serious the trauma can be for its victims. This year, this crime garnered a lot of attention in the newspapers — in the celebrity news section. When big-name celebrities like Lady Gaga and Lena Dunham come forward with stories of allegedly being assaulted, what does it mean for fans, critics, and the general public?
When celebrities speak, people listen. Especially in the age of social media, the general public has a stronger than ever connection to stars, and celebrities can use their public persona to promote themselves and their work — and also important issues. While it would be hard to say that anyone is ever required to speak out on issues — especially issues that they have a personal connection to — it is a chance for them to raise awareness of the seriousness of the crime and how it affects victims. Therefore, it is worth applauding the following stars for their decisions to be brave enough to tell their own stories.
They all told their stories in the public eye, opening themselves up to exposure — and possibly even critique. That they were willing to share their pain speaks volumes about their motivation to raise awareness of a very real issue for so many people. And it also says that despite the pain, they were able to overcome the trauma and not only survive — but thrive.
Dunham said in her book Not That Kind Of Girl, published earlier this year, that she was raped by a ”mustachioed campus Republican” who attended school with her.
Dunham opened up in a Buzzfeed post that was published on Dec. 9 that the reason why she decided to speak up about her alleged assault was not to expose the man who she says assaulted her, but to speak out about the realities and complexities of sexual assault:
I was ready to admit to the ways being sexually assaulted has shaped my sense of self as a woman entering adulthood, compromised my emotional security, and haunted me even during the most joyful periods of my life. I hoped I might inspire others to share, and that forming these connections would assist us all in healing.”
GaGa said on the Howard Stern show earlier this month that she “went through some horrific things” at age 19 with a much older man.
While she didn’t offer as much detail as Dunham did about her alleged assault, Gaga opened up to Stern on his show on Dec. 2 about how she felt after her alleged assault, saying that she needed a lot of mental and physical therapy in order to heal completely:
“I was a shell of my former self at one point. I was not myself.”
The former model is one of several women who have publicly accused Bill Cosby of drugging and assaulting them, but she is probably the one with the highest public profile. In mid-November, Dickinson claimed in an exclusive interview with E! Online that the disgraced comedian raped her back in 1982.
She has since made several public appearances speaking out about the matter, most recently on Nancy Grace where she said, ”It is my right as a woman, as a parent, to protect women out there worldwide and to protect daughters and granddaughters, sisters and mothers. I want women out there to please hear my words. He will keep doing it.”
Kesha filed a suit against her music producer Lukasz “Dr. Luke” Gottwald this year, alleging that he committed sexual assault, gender violence, and intentional infliction of emotional distress against her, according to the Daily News.
Though the music producer also filed a suit claiming she was fabricating the claim, Kesha is not backing down.
In late November, LaBeouf claimed he was raped by a woman during his February art show titled #IAMSORRY. For the exhibit, he sat alone in a room with a paper bag over his head while visitors chose from a selection of items (candles, whips, etc.) they could use to interact with him. It was then that the assault from the unnamed woman happened, he claims. He explained to Dazed ,
“One woman who came with her boyfriend, who was outside the door when this happened, whipped my legs for ten minutes and then stripped my clothing and proceeded to rape me. There were hundreds of people in line when she walked out with disheveled hair and smudged lipstick. It was no good, not just for me but her man as well.”
The star publicly opened up this spring about a heartbreaking pattern of alleged sexual abuse at the hands of people she trusted, including a former babysitter and former boyfriend and his friends.
While she says her love of animals helped her get through the pain, it is sad to hear she’d been keeping her story inside for so long, especially since the abuse allegedly started when she was only a child.
While actress Sarah Hyland did not explicitly say she was sexually assaulted, she did seemingly reference the abuse from her boyfriend that resulted in a restraining order during an interview with Meredith Vieira this fall. She did not name any names, but she did share inspiring quotes that she used to overcome the hard times.
“There are two quotes that I want to say,” Hyland said. “One is a Dylan Thomas poem: ‘Do not go gentle into that good night. Rage, rage against the dying of the light,’ which is one of my favorite poems. It just strikes a chord in me; and also Robert Frost: ‘The only way out is through.’”
This spring, the former 90210 star decided to open up about her alleged rape by a friend when she was 18. While her story is devastating, it is admirable and inspiring that the reason why she decided to share it is so that she could support other women who have been raped so that don’t feel that they have a voice.