Justice

Ashley Graham Opens up About Being Molested at 10 Years Old

Model Ashley Graham has never been shy about discussing her struggle with maintaining a positive body image in a world of size 0 models. Now she's revealing a dark secret about her childhood.

Graham wrote about being molested as a child in her upcoming memoir.

PEOPLE reports:

"In her book, A New Model: What Confidence, Beauty, and Power Really Look Like, Graham says the 18-year-old son of her parents’ friends forced her to touch his erection while they were drying off in her laundry room after swimming in the pool.

She says she was frightened after the interaction and fled from the room, but that the episode 'left me with so many lingering questions.'"

As Teen Vogue is quick to point out, Graham's experience is not unusual.

"Abuse like Ashley's is all too common. According to RAINN, as many as 63,000 children were victims of sexual abuse each year between 2009 and 2013. Most of the alleged victims are between ages 12 and 17 when they are abused, and 34% are under age 12. RAINN says 82% of all victims are female."

Teen Vogue adds that "these victims are four times more likely to show symptoms of substance abuse, to experience PTSD as adults, and three times more likely to experience a major depressive episode as an adult."

And as PEOPLE recounts from Graham's memoir, she did indeed suffer from substance abuse. "During her second year living in New York," the magazine reported, "Graham's use of drugs and alcohol almost led her to be fired from her modeling agency after she missed a flight to a job after drinking all night the night before. While her agent accepted her apology, Graham saw this moment as a turning point. 'I hit bottom,' she writes."

There's another way her abuse was not uncommon.

Graham wrote that she was molested by the son of her parents' friends. That's in line with RAINN statistics, which show that most children know the person who abused them.

Circle graph explaining that 93 percent of child victims know their perpetrator. 59% of perpetrators are acquaintances, 34% are family members, and 7% are strangers.

Graham's willingness to discuss her experience could helps others realize they're not alone.

If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673), where you'll be connected to a trained person who will talk to you and help find a facility near you for sexual assault survivors. You can also visit online.rainn.org if you want to chat anonymously.

[H/T Teen Vogue]

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