America Ferrera opened up about being sexually assaulted at nine years old in an Instagram #MeToo post

This week, victims of sexual assault and harassment took to social media to raise awareness about how often acts of sexual violence take place. Celebrities and non-celebrities alike shared their stories on social media platforms using the tag #MeToo. In a candid Instagram post, America Ferrera opened up about being sexually assaulted at nine years old.

"First time I can remember being sexually assaulted I was 9-years-old," Ferrera's #MeToo post read. "I told no one and lived with the shame and guilt thinking all along that I, a 9-year-old child, was somehow responsible for the actions of a grown man."

Her pain was amplified by the fact that she had to see her abuser daily.

"I had to see this man on a daily basis for years to come," she continued. "He would smile at me and wave, and I would hurry past him, my blood running cold, my guts carrying the burden of what only he & I knew — that he expected me to shut my mouth and smile back."

Ferrera, an active advocate for human rights and equality, called upon her fellow women to “break the silence so the next generation of girls won’t have to live with this bullshit.”

Her powerful story is one among countless more. The #MeToo movement started in light of the sexual assault allegations against Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein, and it has inspired so many women to come forward to talk about how Weinstein, and other men, have gotten away with sexual assault for too long.

As Ferrera and fellow #MeToo participants know, sexual assault is not just an entertainment industry problem — it’s a widespread societal issue. Although it’s not easy, continuing the conversation will bring light to the injustices victims have suffered and hopefully bring about a perceptible shift in the ways in which men in our world abuse their privilege.

If you or someone you know has been a victim of sexual assault or violence, you can contact the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 1-800.656.HOPE (4673).

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