NAPERVILLE, Illinois – A Filipina Hollywood actress, who starred in the sci-fi film "Atlantis Down", has come forward to tell her story about rape and sexual attack.
“There were times I was already planning on how to put myself under. I cannot look at myself in the mirror,” said 39-year old Mae Flores.
Flores said she was raped when she was 18 years old, attacked by a stranger inside her room on board a cruise ship.
“It was very swift, quick push. I remember landing, my face landed up, my hand held the door, part of my body was still out and I remember, my legs getting pushed in. That's all I remember,” she shared. “I couldn’t move. I didn’t know what to do."
According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, or RAINN, one American is sexually assaulted every 98 seconds.
According to her IMDB page, Flores was enrolled at the Cultural Center of the Philippines where she studied ballet at 3 years old. She was then accepted to be part of Repertory Theater in Makati and at the same time admitted to reputable dance academies in Manila.
Flores' family immigrated to Chicago when she was just 11-years old where she continued training in the performing arts. Columbia College also accepted her to its Chicago program where she majored in modern dance, choreography and performance.
She concentrated on her acting career when she moved to Los Angeles and landed in some small roles in independent films as well as few television commercials. Her big break came when she was chosen as one of the lead actors of "Atlantis Down".
In her interview, Flores said she was in denial and embarrassed when the first sexual assault happened.
She went through therapy and tried to move on using art as her outlet. The Hollywood actress won roles in independent films and appearing on TV commercials.
As a professional dancer, too, Flores found temporary peace whenever she danced.
“I made everything about letting out my feelings through dance. That was the only way that I was feeling good, was when I was dancing,” she said.
Eighteen years after the first sexual assault, it happened again three years ago.
“In Chicago, night time, walking down the street, walking to my car,” she shared. “But this time, I’m an adult. I teach my kids, when it happens to you, this is what you do. Nothing will prepare you,” she said.
Flores said this was the rock bottom of her life.
“I always blame myself. I had not been in healthy relationships. I didn’t believe in love anymore or being protected by anybody,” she said.
But one day, she decided to overcome her obstacles and became an activist. She spoke at the United Nations this year and is set to deliver a TED Talk in New York next month.
“It's like normalizing an abnormal behavior. If you normalize rape as a danger, as something to be embarrassed about, you're gonna keep hiding it. If I tell a million people my story today, hopefully they’ll say, I don’t have to hide it,” Flores said.
Flores added that coming out is never easy. Despite the challenges that come with it, she pushes herself to move forward.
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