Gabrielle Union Said Police Brutality and the Pandemic Have Sent Her “PTSD into Overdrive”

"There's just terror in my body."

Warning: This article mentions rape.

If you follow Gabrielle Union on Instagram, you see a feed that’s filled with love and light—and a family that seems to be thriving in quarantine. In a recent interview with Women’s Health, however, the actress opened up about the darker side that the last several months have brought out, explaining how her PTSD has been especially heightened lately.

“The combination of a pandemic and this racial reckoning, alongside being inundated with [images of] the brutalization of Black bodies, has sent my PTSD into overdrive,” Union said. “There’s just terror in my body.”

Union’s PTSD first arose after she was raped at gunpoint at the age of 19, an attack she’s been vocal about as she’s worked to advocate for other survivors. The actress first started going to therapy in 1992, the year of the assault, and she’s been a strong proponent of therapy ever since, relying on various coping methods she’s learned to manage her PTSD.

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.

If Union is feeling anxious, a feeling that has been somewhat constant in recent months, she’ll use this coping method to assess her options and find a scenario where she can feel most in control and at ease. “It’s been this way since ’92. It’s just something I do; second nature,” she said.

Therapy-obtained techniques like these have allowed Union to access feelings of peace even in times of such pain and struggle. ““I feel different in my body. I feel freer,” she said.

Union also noted that she was grateful for the care she had access to following her rape, explaining that she knows it “rarely happens that way” for many rape survivors. “And it really rarely happens that way for Black women.”

So, while Union has been spending necessary time on self work and care, she wants to put those efforts back into the community, doing what she can to provide more resources to Black people especially.

“I want to make sure that everything that is working for me is available to as many people as possible,” Union said. “We’re not free until everyone is free.”

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.