As many have found, COVID-19 and the horrid images of Black people as victims of deadly violence have made for a lot to take in, and that’s true of actress Gabrielle Union. She shared more about that emotional and mental toll during a cover-story interview with Women’s Health. Union opened up about recently experiencing a flare-up over and also long-term suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder since being raped at gunpoint as a teenager at her job in Pleasanton, California.
“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,” the actress told the publication. “There’s just terror in my body.”
Union has opened up about being raped in the past. It happened when she was 19 years old, working at Payless Shoes. In less than a week after the life-changing incident, her attacker turned himself in following a manhunt and eventually took a plea deal for 33 years in prison.
The “Bad Boys II” star began going to therapy for the rape in 1992, and to this day she uses certain methods to control her PTSD — especially on those days when normal routines, like entering a store, seem daunting.
“I break out my emotional fix-me toolkit, and I try to run through all the situations,” Union explained. “I call it my ‘what’s the likelihood of X happening?’ method.”
She continued, “It looks something like this. If I’m fearful about going into a store because I’m anxious about being robbed, I’ll make myself feel better by going to one where there will be witnesses to cut down those chances. It’s been this way since ’92. It’s just something I do second nature.”
On Wednesday, Sept. 2, Union celebrated being on the cover of Women’s Health on Instagram and said since a Black female photographer took her pictures and she was able to wear her own hair, the shoot was delightful.
“My 1st cover shot by a Black woman @djenebaaduayom and the 1st time I’ve worn my own natural hair for a cover,” she wrote in part. “Such a powerfully beautiful and peaceful experience!”