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Gabrielle Union opens up about surviving rape and living with PTSD for 30 years

“There’s times the anxiety is so bad it shrinks my life."
Union has long been candid about her experiences with PTSD.
Union has long been candid about her experiences with PTSD.Rodin Eckenroth / Getty Images

Warning: This story discusses sexual assault.

Gabrielle Union wrote a candid Instagram post about her experiences with post-traumatic stress disorder.

The “Cheaper by the Dozen” star, 49, shared a video of herself on the red carpet at the 2022 Met Gala, calling attention to the different ways anxiety can manifest.

“As a rape survivor, I have battled PTSD for 30 years. Living with anxiety and panic attacks all these years has never been easy,” she wrote in the caption. “There’s times the anxiety is so bad it shrinks my life. Leaving the house or making a left hand turn at an uncontrolled light can fill me with terror. Anxiety can turn my anticipation about a party or fun event I’ve been excited about attending (Met Ball) into pure agony.”

PTSD is a mental health condition that can occur after someone experiences a traumatic event, such as an assault.

Symptoms of PTSD can include: flashbacks, which may cause physical symptoms, like sweating or a racing heart; feeling tense or on edge; and frightening thoughts or dreams, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. People with PTSD also often develop anxiety, depression or substance use disorders.

“When we tell y’all what we are experiencing, please believe us the 1st time we mention it,” Union continued in her post. “No, it’s not like being nervous and everyone experiences and deals with anxiety differently, and that’s OK. I don’t need you to try to ‘fix’ me. I share this as I hope everyone living with anxiety knows they aren’t alone or “being extra.” I see you, I FEEL you and there is so much love for you. Always. Love and light good people. Be good to each other out there 🖤.”

Union has opened about her experiences with PTSD in the past. In September 2020, she wrote about how the COVID-19 pandemic and racial unrest in the U.S. had put her PTSD “on 10.”

“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,” she said in an interview with Women’s Health. “There’s just terror in my body.” 

She also shared how she cares for herself when experiencing symptoms of PTSD.

“I break out my emotional fix-me toolkit, and I try to run through all the situations,” she said. “I call it my ‘what’s the likelihood of X happening?’ method.”