Viola Davis attends Variety’s Power of Women: New York at Cipriani Wall Street on April 13, 2018, in New York City.
Photo: Jamie McCarthy (Getty Images)

Viola Davis is known for her moving speeches—whether she’s speaking about social injustice or accepting well-deserved accolades in an industry in which she’s helping to ensure that black women soar.

Davis brought the crowd to a standstill at the Women’s March in Los Angeles earlier this year as she recounted her ongoing struggle as a survivor of sexual violence. At Variety’s Power of Women luncheon on Friday in New York City, Davis spoke truth to power about the abuse that holds sway over the lives of survivors of sexual assault long after the physical attack has ended.

Davis—accompanied by her husband of 12 years, actor Julius Tennon—in an eloquent off-the-cuff exchange with a reporter, debunked the perception that women only suffer damage to their careers.

Davis, who has lived to tell the tale and come out not only standing but thriving, raised her voice to help all of us who are, in some way, connected to a survivor of sexual violence. Its prevalence is no different from that of cancer.


As Tarana Burke, the founder of the #MeToo movement, said, “Sexual violence is a disease.”

We have the cure. Our voices can create the change to stop it from spreading.