Why Gabrielle Union Supports Those Who Don't Want To See The Birth Of A Nation

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If you aren't planning on seeing The Birth of a Nation, you have Gabrielle Union's support.

In an interview with Essence for the magazine's November issue, the actress, who stars in the film, says that given the controversy of the sexual assault charge against her co-star and director Nate Parker, she understands why some may want to boycott the movie.

Union, who wrote a powerful op-ed for The Los Angeles Times detailing her own sexual assault, told Essence that, "as a rape survivor and as an advocate, I cannot shy away from this responsibility because the conversation got difficult."

"I don’t want to put myself above anyone’s pain or triggers," she continued. "Every victim or survivor, I believe you. I support you. I support you if you don’t want to see the film. I absolutely understand and respect that."

Thankfully, Union seems to have an acutely compassionate understanding of how psychological triggers can work. A trigger is anything that evokes a memory or flashback to a traumatic event — such as sexual assault — and can bring a survivor back to the original trauma.

Triggers are often deeply personal, and can be anything from witnessing a situation in which someone else is abused to hearing something that sounds painful or frightening. In this case, some (particularly survivors of sexual assault) may find it too triggering to see a film starring a man who has been accused of having had nonconsensual sex with a woman. And needless to say, the film's subject matter can be triggering in and of itself.

"I can’t sell the film," Union told Essence. "This movie has always been about more than one person, and for the outspoken feminist advocates and allies who risked a lot to be a part of this project — Aja Naomi King, Aunjanue Ellis, Penelope Ann Miller — we are okay if you have to sit this one out, and we’re okay if you don’t, and we understand."

Indeed, since The Birth of a Nation's release, some have chosen to boycott the film, and others are protesting it by holding candlelight vigils for survivors of sexual assault.

Of course, whether or not you see the movie is your choice, but it's encouraging that Union, as one of its stars and a survivor of sexual assault herself, has a deep understanding of why some may want to opt out.

If you have experienced sexual violence and are in need of crisis support, please call the RAINN Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

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