Vi­ola Davis de­scribes be­com­ing Rape Foun­da­tion ad­vo­cate

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - FEATURES - By Sandy Co­hen

BEV­ERLY HILLS >> Vi­ola Davis said Sun­day that her own ex­pe­ri­ences with sex­ual as­sault led her to be­come an ad­vo­cate for the Rape Foun­da­tion and en­cour­aged oth­ers to visit treat­ment cen­ters so they’ll be­come sup­port­ers.

“You must,” she said. “And then let your heart do the rest.”

“My­self, my mother, my sis­ters, my friend Re­becca, my friend from child­hood, we all have one thing in com­mon: We are all sur­vivors of sex­ual as­sault in some way, shape or form,” Davis said Sun­day at a ben­e­fit for the foun­da­tion.

It pro­vides free med­i­cal treat­ment, coun­sel­ing and le­gal aid to sex­ual as­sault vic­tims at its Rape Treat­ment Cen­ter and Stu­art House, which spe­cial­izes in car­ing for sex­u­ally abused chil­dren.

An ad­vo­cate for the group since play­ing its founder in a 2010 film, Davis was among the guests of honor at the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s an­nual fundrais­ing brunch held at bil­lion­aire Ron Burkle’s Greenacres es­tate in Bev­erly Hills, Cal­i­for­nia

Davis said half of the sur­vivors helped by the Rape Foun­da­tion are chil­dren, adding that one in four girls and one in six boys are sex­u­ally abused be­fore age 18.

Her own sis­ter is among the ca­su­al­ties: She was sex­u­ally as­saulted at age 8 and still strug­gles to­day.

“I con­tinue to pray for my sis­ter,” said Davis, who has pre­vi­ously spo­ken pub­licly about her sis­ter’s at­tack.

The brunch was held in a tented space in Burkle’s back­yard, where “Black Pan­ther” star Chad­wick Bose­man, “Vam­pire Di­aries” ac­tress Nina Do­brev and the sup­port­ing cast on Davis’ “How to Get Away With Mur­der” were among the guests in 95-de­gree heat.

David Sch­wim­mer was the mas­ter of cer­e­monies. The ac­tor-direc­tor started work­ing with the Rape Foun­da­tion dur­ing his “Friends” days and has served on its board of di­rec­tors for the last 12 years. He said the brunch sup­ports a year’s worth of ser­vices at the Rape Treat­ment Cen­ter and Stu­art House.

The Rape Foun­da­tion also pro­vides ed­u­ca­tional pro­grams for first re­spon­ders and mid­dle- and high­school stu­dents.

Fol­low AP En­ter­tain­ment Writer Sandy Co­hen at www.twit­ter.com/APSandy

PHOTO BY RICH FURY — INVISION — AP,FILE

This file photo shows Vi­ola Davis ar­riv­ing at the 4th An­nual Woman Mak­ing His­tory Brunch at the Skir­ball Cul­tural Cen­ter in Los An­ge­les. Davis has seen the ef­fects of sex­ual as­sault first hand. She said her sis­ter was sex­u­ally as­saulted at age 8 and is now a heroin addict and pros­ti­tute. Davis also de­scribed her mother and her­self as sur­vivors of sex­ual as­sault Sun­day at a ben­e­fit for the Rape Foun­da­tion and Stu­art House, which pro­vides free med­i­cal treat­ment, coun­sel­ing and le­gal aid to rape vic­tims, with spe­cial ser­vices for chil­dren.

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