Camila Mendes opened up about being sexually assaulted and the tattoo that helps her through her trauma

Trigger warning: This post discusses sexual assault and eating disorders.

In a September 9th interview with Women’s Health, Riverdale’s Camila Mendes talked about why she has the words “to build a home” tattooed on her ribcage. Not only does the tattoo symbolize her grasping for stability and routine after moving 12 times before the age of 18, but getting it also marked a period of moving on after Mendes experienced a sexual assault during her freshman year of college.

"I got the tattoo after my freshman year, she told Women's Health. "I had a very, very bad experience; I was roofied by someone who sexually assaulted me."

While she refrained from going into more detail about the incident, Mendes explained that after living in that dark period in time, she made a vow to herself to learn to feel safe and comfortable, the feelings that encapsulate a dream physical living space. “To build a home,” the article says, reminds her of that vow and her sense of self and surrounding environment.

The tattoo has everything to do with Mendes’s desire to keep herself healthy, whatever that means to her.

“It’s health that’s important, not appearance,” Mendes told the publication. “I make choices that are good for me—and not just in my body—but for my soul, for my mind.”

Making the decision to create a home-like routine is one such choice. As is engaging in physical activity to help clear her mind.

"Whenever I feel like I’m going through something difficult, I think about what I can do physically for myself," she continued, stating that physical activity has helped her get through a lot of emotional issues. "I danced for seven years...Then I did musicals as a kid, then so much of acting school is movement classes and connecting your breath to your body. Activity has always been an important part of my life."

Like many of us, Mendes is still working on becoming a healthier and happier version of herself while staying true to her vow to make good choices for her body, soul, and mind. The actress is currently on the path to recovery after seeking help for an eating disorder. She chooses to address her health issues. She chooses to use her platform to connect with others who have been through similar experiences. And Mendes chooses to eat ice cream now and again because, hey, ice cream is definitely good for the soul, she says.

Opening up and being vulnerable with yourself and with others is harrowing. However, doing so, as Mendes has, can help others through similar traumas. And now that she’s explained her ink, hopefully, fans and followers will also realize that “building a home” for themselves is possible.

If you are a sexual assault survivor and need help, you can call the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 1-800-656-4673 to speak to a trained counselor. You can also chat online with a counselor here. Both services are available 24/7.

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