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Viola Davis Tarana Burke
Viola Davis Tarana Burke

Viola Davis: Me Too Founder Tarana Burke Allows Survivors 'to Own Their Story'

While presenting Variety‘s Power of Women award to Me Too founder Tarana Burke during Friday’s luncheon, Viola Davis spoke about the intersectional effects of sexual assault.

“I’m saying this in a room full of women: If you can imagine — if you can wrap your mind around it —that there is a rung lower that people see than being a woman,” Davis said. “And it’s being a woman of color.”

Davis supported her statement with statistics, which showed that “a black woman is 66% more likely to be assaulted again if she is raped before the age of 18,” and that of the women victims of sex trafficking, “77% of them are women of color.”

The actress praised Burke as a hero for giving a voice to a community of sexual assault victims of color who may suffer from post traumatic stress disorder, dissociative disorder, flashbacks, eating disorders, suicide, and depression but feel unworthy of support.

“Tarana has owned her story, and she’s allowing these young girls to own their story,” Davis said. “Despite the trauma, despite the heartache, despite the fact that something was taken from them that day, that moment — that they could still lead a life of value. And my God, if that is not a golden lasso and a cape, I don’t know what is.”

Tarana Burke is one of five of Variety‘s 2018 honorees, which also include Emily Blunt, Alicia Keys, Margaret Atwood, and Tina Fey. Watch the full speech above.

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