Jada Pinkett Smith Raises Awareness About Sexual Assault After Niece is Given Date-Rape Drug

Celebrity News Jul. 22, 2014 AT 8:30AM
Jada Pinkett Smith and Willow Jada Pinkett Smith spoke about sexual assault and what she teaches her daughter Willow Credit: Gilbert Carrasquillo/FilmMagic

Jada Pinkett Smith is taking a stand. The actress, 42, is raising awareness about sexual assault after both the very public #JusticeforJada campaign and her own niece's harrowing ordeal. 

Smith participated in the #JusticeforJada advocacy earlier this month, when a story was made public about a 16-year-old Texan girl named Jada, who was raped and further humiliated when photos showing her naked and unconscious went viral on social media. 

PHOTOS: Smith family album

"This could be you, me, or any woman or girl that we know," Smith wrote on Facebook at the time. "What do we plan to do about this ugly epidemic? #justiceforjada." 

Now, Smith tells Us Weekly the issue hits far closer to home than she initially let on. 

PHOTOS: The Smiths at the VMAs

"If you saw what I put on Facebook, you also saw that this could happen to any woman that we know and the unfortunate part is that my niece was given a date-rape drug that weekend," she tells Us. "Thank god—she's 20—so thank god that nothing happened, because she was with some responsible guys that took care of her, and with three of her friends. She said, 'oh my god I can't feel my…' she was losing consciousness. Thank god the people she was with put her in a room, closed the door, and she didn't come to for three and a half hours."

Pinkett Smith and husband of 17 years Will Smith share two children, son Jaden, 16, and daughter Willow, 13. She explains to Us that she didn't keep the unfortunate incident as a secret from Willow, but instead sat her down to tell her everything. 

PHOTOS: Will and Jada through the years

"I'm not a conventional parent, which I take a lot of pride in," she tells Us. "The first thing I had my niece do was sit down with my daughter and a couple of her friends and tell her about that experience. I don't just sit with Willow and go, 'hey, this is what Mommy thinks.' Let me just bring in a little reality to validate what Mommy's been talking to you about." 

"What I do with Willow is I give her the opportunity to be empowered by having herself first," she continues. "Because when you allow a person to be an individual and you allow a person to have power within and have confidence on who they are, you'll never have to look into the eyes of a man and question whether it's a yes or a no. She's gonna be very clear: No. She's gonna be very clear: yes. And she's gonna be in a position to be able to determine how to protect herself. Know when you're in danger. Should you be a girl that goes into a room with four men drinking. Should you? Even if you think you know them? Is this about wanting to be the cool girl or is this about wanting to set a standard for yourself?"

PHOTOS: Jada at the Oscars

Pinkett Smith did not put the onus entirely on the women to protect themselves, however. "There is an epidemic going on out here in regards to the treatment of women," she adds. 

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