Angela Bassett

Tibrina Hobson/Getty Images for The Rape Foundation

Angela Bassett understands firsthand the empowerment of being believed. 

Ahead of the Rape Foundation's annual brunch on Sunday, the Oscar-nominated actress recalled to reporters a "devastating" experience she had faced as a young girl. According to multiple reports, the star shared she had woken up and discovered a man her mother was dating fondled her while she was asleep. 

"Fortunately, it wasn't a complete assault, it was fondling, but it was devastating enough for a child who's 12 or 13," she told reporters. "And thankfully to have a mother who could tell as soon as light broke that this happened and for her to expel him…That she heard me, believed me and did something about it, I think was so empowering for me as a young teen, as a young woman."

Today, Bassett is a mom herself to 13-year-old twins, Bronwyn Vance and Slater Vance, with husband Courtney B. Vance

"I started that early because of experiences with friends and I know that they will be in situations one day," Bassett said of teaching her kids about respecting boundaries. "When a girl says no, both to him and to her, she means no."

The annual event, which was hosted by Bassett, David Schwimmerand Eric McCormack and attended by guests including Elizabeth Olsenand Christina Hendricks, was held to acknowledge and raise money for The Rape Treatment Center and Stuart House at UCLA-Santa Monica Medical Center. 

"I wish we didn't live in a world where sexual assault existed," Bassett said at the event, according to The Hollywood Reporter. "I wish they weren't victims of such a heinous, life-altering crime. I wish we lived in a world where our children felt effortlessly protected, without any fear of someone violating or hurting them. But sadly that is not our reality. And with that, thank God for sanctuaries like The Rape Treatment Center and Stuart House."

For free, confidential help, call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-4673 or visit rainn.org.

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