With Harvey Weinstein’s fall from grace following revelations of sexual assault allegations dominating headlines, Sunday’s brunch in Beverly Hills benefiting the Rape Foundation would have been remiss without addressing it. Several survivors of rape and sexual assault spoke about their journeys from trauma to recovery, as well as how they channel their negative experiences into positive action.
Chrissy Metz, Justin Hartley, Mandy Moore, Milo Ventimiglia, Sterling K. Brown, and Susan Kelechi Watson from the Emmy-winning “This Is Us” were honored at the brunch and spoke about their deep respect for the Rape Treatment Center and Stuart House at Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center, the event’s beneficiaries. The center provides state-of-the-art care for rape victims and sexually abused children, in addition to prevention education programs.
“It’s all the more important to be here today, supporting women and victims. It couldn’t come at a more important time, in light of recent news,” Moore said upon arrival.
Ventimiglia also urged that men take responsibility from their position of privilege in Hollywood. “Men have a great responsibility in general,” he said. “We need to show compassion, strength, understanding, and communication.”
“Friends” alum David Schwimmer, who emcees the event every year and is a Rape Foundation board member, kicked off the morning. He welcomed the “This Is Us” cast to the stage to speak, followed by foundation president Gail Abarbanel, who introduced a few survivors to share their stories. To wrap the ceremony, Eric McCormack of “Will & Grace” led the crowd in a round of monetary pledges to the cause.
Responding to a question about the Harvey Weinstein scandal, McCormack said, “I don’t think anyone is particularly surprised with that. It reminds us that the abuse of women is systematic. It’s a very real thing that women have had to endure in this business for a long time. It’s good that it’s out from under the rug.”
Ultimately, the heroes of the event were the survivors who opened up about their traumatic experiences. Watson expressed her awe for the people at the Rape Treatment Center and Stuart House, which the cast had recently visited. “There’s nothing like actually experiencing it,” said the “This Is Us” star. “To see this facility that was created to be this sort of comfort in a storm.”