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Amandla Stenberg recently opened up about sexual assault and the pain that she has grappled with because of it. ‘The Hate U Give’ star, who is only 19, detailed her trauma in a recent op-ed for Teen Vogue that was as transparent as it is poignant.

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In reaction to Dr. Christine Blasey Ford‘s sexual assault testimony about now-confirmed Supreme Court judge Brett Kavanaugh last month, Stenberg shared the difficult parts of her past. Her accounts of two sexual assaults were detailed and emotional.

“My breath was the tool I relied on when I ended up in a foreign country on a three-hour train ride to find an emergency contraceptive,” Stenberg said. “The night before, what started as a consensual experience had turned forceful. Painful things had been done to my body that made me feel broken and disposable. I was unable to consent to them, and was silenced verbally and physically when I protested.”

Stenberg carefully explained how she was confronted by a myriad of feelings: guilt, shame, blame and vulnerability. She then spoke up for survivors who have to find their voice after trauma.

“The moment you speak out about assault, you’ve entered a battle where you’ve been appointed defender of your own legitimacy,” Stenberg said. “You are given the responsibility of, after having just been subjected to devastating trauma, navigating impossible protocols, lest you be charged as the culprit in your own attack. You’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t … We should not be condemned for being unsure of how to move through pain.”

Stenberg acknowledged her pain, thanked Dr. Ford’s and other survivors’ for sharing their stories and offered encouraging and healing words to those who have experienced assault. In return, many people have taken to social media to thank the actress.


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