During a Tuesday night speech a the Stuart House, a Los Angeles-area nonprofit that serves children who have been sexually assaulted, Viola Davis gave a truly moving speech about the impact that sexual assault had her own family.
“I have a sister, who, when she was eight years old, put on some roller skates with her friend, went down to the corner store at one o’clock in the afternoon, went into the store and was sexually assaulted in the store,” Davis said. She continued:
“[My sister] 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.”
The assault had a long impact on Davis’ sister: “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 said as she became visibly emotional. She continued to recount her sister’s life, a life that has been marked with addiction and prostitution. But Davis was sharing her sister’s story for a purpose, “memories demand attention because memories have teeth,” she said.
This, however, was no sugar-coated speech. Davis concluded by essentially acknowledging that the assault had deeply and profoundly impacted her sister’s life in immeasurably negative ways: “I wish I could tell my sister that she’s not dirty and that she should not feel any shame for something that she literally was not responsible for. I wish I could save her life.”
Video via PopSugar.