AnnaLynne McCord is a survivor, not a victim.
The 90210 actress hosted the Life Is Love event in L.A. September 22, which benefitted the Somaly Mam Foundation. The organization aims to end modern day slavery and human trafficking around the globe.
An emotional McCord touched on her own experiences when she addressed the audience; her 90210 costars Jessica Stroup, 25, Matt Lanter, 29, Shenae Grimes, 22, Justin Deeley, 26, and Ryan Eggold, 28, showed up to support McCord and the non-profit group.
"Has anyone ever been raped? Sexually abused? Not said 'no' when you felt you didn't have the right to?" McCord, 25, asked the crowd. "I know what it feels like."
After hosting an auction to raise money on the Somaly Mam Foundation's behalf, McCord spoke to Us Weekly about her revelatory speech.
"I had a very similar experience to what these girls go through 20 times a night," she said of the victimized young women and girls the foundation aims to help. "It happened to me once by somebody that I knew, and it is a very interesting thing to feel that you do not have the voice to say 'no.' It wasn't an attack or anything like that — I just had no voice. I did not know how to say, 'I don't want this. Please do not do this to me.'"
McCord explained that "it was a situation where I found myself in my own home being hospitable, and that hospitality was taken advantage of at an extreme level. I did not have a voice, and now I do, and I'm practicing using my voice for others. Finally I can say I was taken advantage of — not from my own shame that I did something to deserve that — and now I can have a clear conscience."
(Coincidentally, McCord's 90210 character, Naomi Clark, was raped by her high school teacher, played by Hal Ozsan, at the end of the CW show's second season.)
McCord has worked with the Somaly Mam Foundation for many years, often visiting victims in Cambodia. "I go to Cambodia every single Christmas now because in this industry, we get two weeks off around Christmas and New Year's. My production staff are amazing — they know to get AnnaLynne out so that she can be on a plane. So this year they will be rushing to get everything done so I can get my 'red eye flight' to Cambodia," the actress told Us. "I will be jet lagged when I get back for the first two weeks and my acting will suck, but it is what totally makes me happy."
The actress' bravery inspired costar Grimes, who tweeted that she was "so proud of my sister, AnnaLynne, for all her hard work with Somaly Mam over the years. Her dedication to this cause is incredible."
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