America Ferrera has broken her silence and revealed she was sexually assaulted as a young girl.
The Superstore actress, 33, shared an Instagram post Monday night as part of the #MeToo movement, in which women share their stories of sexual harassment or assault, and revealed her story of being attacked by an older man she knew.
“First time I can remember being sexually assaulted I was 9-years-old,” she wrote. “I told no one and lived with the shame and guilt thinking all along that I, a 9-year-old child, was somehow responsible for the actions of a grown man.”
The television star was then forced to be around her abuser, further compounding her pain.
“I had to see this man on a daily basis for years to come,” she continued. “He would smile at me and wave, and I would hurry past him, my blood running cold, my guts carrying the burden of what only he & I knew — that he expected me to shut my mouth and smile back.”
“Ladies, let’s break the silence to the next generation of girls won’t have to live with this bulls—,” she added.
The former Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants actress has been outspoken about women’s rights. In January, she spoke at the Women’s March in Washington, D.C., telling PEOPLE at the time that she planned to continue fighting for human rights after the march ended.
“I’ve been a part of different convenings in my industry, my hometown in Los Angeles, creating alliances and bridges, challenging myself to step outside of my comfort zone the issues I have historically identified and taken on,” she said.
She added, “I think it’s time for all of us to widen our perspective and widen our circle of what matters to us and what causes we take up. Really at the core of many causes is human dignity. And that is what we share in this fight to be seen and to be valued.”
The #MeToo movement exploded across social media on Sunday and Monday, and was galvanized by the allegations of sexual assault and harassment involving Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein.
Weinstein’s scandal began when eight women, including Ashley Judd, spoke out against him in a bombshell New York Times report published Oct. 5., where they accused the mogul of sexual misconduct. The paper also reported that Weinstein reached private settlements with eight women, including actress Rose McGowan, who later claimed that the producer had raped her.
Following the initial report, Weinstein said in a statement that he was working with therapists and planned to “deal with this issue head-on.” He has since been fired from his powerhouse studio, the Weinstein Company, kicked out of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, and his wife, Marchesa designer Georgina Chapman, has announced she’s leaving him.
In response to the lengthy allegations, a spokesperson for Weinstein said, “Any allegations of non-consensual sex are unequivocally denied by Mr. Weinstein.”