Viola Davis opened up for the first time about her sister’s experience with sexual assault at The Rape Foundation’s dedication Tuesday of a new Stuart House building. The Rape Foundation’s Stuart House provides services for sexually abused children in L.A. County; the new facility includes a court school to prepare victims for the judicial process and a training center for first responders in child sexual abuse cases.
Davis noted that The Rape Foundation could have changed her sister’s life. “I wish she had had the Stuart House to throw her a rope, because her whole life could have been different,” Davis said. “There are a lot of beautiful stories that are going to come out of the Stuart House . . . there’s going to be so many testimonies of winning and heroic young people literally opening their mouths and speaking about their abuse — daring to call out their abusers.”
Davis told the traumatic story of her sister’s rape. “I have a sister, who, when she was 8 years old, put on some rollerskates with her friend, went down to the corner store at 1 o’clock in the afternoon, went into the store, and was sexually assaulted in the store,” she said. “She came home and she told my mom. My mom ran down to the store, started screaming at the store owners and they said: ‘Leave that man alone. He does that to all the little girls.’ And then my mom proceeded to flag down a police officer. They found the man. They put him in the car. I saw my little sister crying. My mom was crying, too. And that was it.”
“And then from there, a precocious, very intelligent, very creative child grew up to be frail, angry, a drug addict by the time she was 20,” Davis continued. “Six children, all of which have been taken by social services. A prostitute. An IV drug user. You know, memories demand attention, because memories have teeth. And in my vision, and in my dreams, when I pray for my sister . . . you pray in general terms. You pray that she finds peace and love and happiness, she gets off drugs. And then of course you open your eyes, and you’re like, she’s still on the streets.”
Davis is a longtime supporter of The Rape Foundation. Also in attendance were The Rape Foundation’s president Gail Abarbanel, L.A. District Attorney Jackie Lacey, LAPD’s Charlie Beck and supporters Cheryl Saban, Eric McCormack and Rosanna Arquette. Stuart House offers 24-hour available emergency care and free treatment for child victims and their families.
(Pictured: Viola Davis and Gail Abarbanel)