Just when you thought the innocent had been spared, young actress Amandla Stenberg, adds her name to the GROWING list of #MeToo survivors. Like many of you, I first learned of Stenberg from her 2011 film "Colombiana" or when she played little Rue from District 11 in the 2012 film "The Hunger Games". Her brief screen time made us love her doe-eyed character and left tons of us in tears when she died. No, seriously, I even cried reading the book.
We grew to love her in other films like "Everything, Everything", "The Darkest Minds" and we're anticipating the releasing of her new projects "The Hate U Give" and "Where Hands Touch". She's outspoken, unapologetically Black and everything that we value in a young Queen. . . except for the fact that she's had to face the demons of sexual assault.
In an op-ed written for Teen Vogue in response to the testimony of Dr. Christine Blasey-Ford (you know, that whole ordeal with the unfit KavaNAW being sworn into the Supreme Court), Stenberg, who has been very careful what she allows of her personal life in the media, made her declaration.
She details the incident as being consensual, at first, but taking a horrible turn.
". . .what started as a consensual experience had turned forceful. Painful things had been done to my body that made me feel broken and disposable. I was unable to consent to them, and was silenced verbally and physically when I protested."
"I woke up to a text message that said I should “probably find a plan B.”
"My body hurt and my mind was on a one-track loop, dissecting all the things that I was culpable for, that must have led me to my predicament. I felt stupid. My mama had taught me better than to put myself in positions of vulnerability that could lead to these possible ramifications."
"I blamed myself. This was my fault for not having been smarter."
This time, however horrible, was not the first time this had happened to the young star. It had happened when she was younger, more inexperienced and naive.
"It was so swift and forceful that by the time I recognized what was happening, I felt I only had two options: I could A) voice my discomfort and protest, probably to be met with further force and/or male disapproval or B) convince myself that this was something I wanted. I chose the latter, out of self-preservation and to placate male desire. I had not consented, but I had not said no. So I did not consider what I had experienced an assault. I figured it was just an inherent part of sexual exploration as a teenage girl; the conundrum of compliance. And even in the throes of my discomfort, I prioritized the male ego. In both instances, I excused the behavior because I had been taught to, and it was easier than facing the full weight of my pain."
The 19-year-old actress writes about how she learned to let go of the guilt that she felt. To think of herself as a "friend" and treat herself with "tenderness'. Holding in the guilt and playing the scenario over and over only to find fault with one's self is one of the hardest things for a survivor to overcome. We're thankful that she came forward as the voice of a younger survivor. Hopefully, one day, her abuser, who remains unidentified) will be brought to justice.
If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, you can seek help by calling the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800-656-HOPE (4673).