*Viola Davis gave an emotional speech at UCLA’s Stuart House on Tuesday. The program “is an internationally recognized, model program created by The Rape Foundation and others to serve the special needs of sexually abused children and their families.”
The Oscar-winner talked about how her sister was effected by a sexual assault that occurred when she was a child, and while Viola’s mother reported the man to the police, her sister would spend a lifetime recovering from the traumatic moment.
“I have a sister, who, when she was 8 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,” she began.
“A precocious, very intelligent, very creative child grew up to be frail, angry, a drug addict by the time she was 20,” Davis told the crowd.
Viola revealed that her sister was at some point a “prostitute” and an intravenous drug user, whose six children have all been “taken by social services,” Pop Sugar notes. She also said that she wishes the Stuart House had been a resource for her sister to use as a place of healing because “her whole life could have been different.”
The “How To Get Away With Murder” star added a powerful message to help illustrate her sister’s story: “You know, memories demand attention, because memories have teeth.”
Her sister’s memories are still haunting now at the age of 39.
“You pray that she finds peace and love and happiness, she gets off drugs,” Davis said. “And then of course you open your eyes, and you’re like, ‘She’s still on the streets.'”
Before concluding her moving speech, Davis added, “I guess if I were to speak about anything today, I’m going to speak about my sisters of the world. The people who fell through the cracks, who didn’t have a Stuart House.”