Gabrielle Union Recalled Her Own Sexual Assault In Tribute To Oluwatoyin "Toyin" Salau On Instagram

"I am alive to talk about surviving my rape at 19. She is not."

gabrielle union mourns oluwatoyin salau
(Image credit: Getty / Gabrielle Union / Instagram)
  • Gabrielle Union shared a photo of Black Lives Matter activist Oluwatoyin "Toyin" Salau, who was confirmed dead by police on June 13, to Instagram.
  • In the post, the actress called Salau, who recently opened up on Twitter about being sexual assaulted, a "warrior.”
  • Gabrielle has opened up about being raped when she was 19.

Trigger warning: This article contains detailed descriptions of sexual assault.

Gabrielle Union shared a heartbreaking tribute to the late Oluwatoyin "Toyin" Salau on Instagram. Salau was a 19-year-old activist who joined recent protests for Black Lives Matter. She had been reported missing, and the Tallahassee Police Department confirmed her death on June 13, per Tallahassee Democrat.

Gabrielle wrote in the caption: "She was 19. 19. 19. A baby. Oluwatoyin 'Toyin' Salau was a 19 year old warrior who fought for US. She reported her sexual assault to police and days later was found murdered. The horrors she faced, the trauma she endured, all by 19 years old."

The actress continued, pleading: "Who cares for little Black girls, Black teens, Black women? Toyin deserved so much more. She fought for so much more for all of us. I can't shake it. I am her and she is me."

Gabrielle mentioned her own experience as a rape victim and survivor in the caption: "I am alive to talk about surviving my rape at 19. She is not.. The work continues. The fight continues. The reckoning will continue. Toyin should be here. She was 19. A baby. Hold our babies tight. Love them. Protect them. Support them. 19."

Salau had shared details of her assault on June 6 on Twitter. "He came disguised as a man of God and ended up picking me up from nearby Saxon Street," she tweeted. "I trusted the holy spirit to keep me safe."

Gabrielle has also opened up about her experience in graphic detail. She wrote about being raped at gunpoint in her book, We're Going To Need More Wine and shared excerpts with Glamour.

"He threw me to the ground and was suddenly on me, spreading my legs as he kept the gun on my head. As he raped me, I began to hover over myself. I could see the whole room. I looked at that poor crying girl and thought, Things like this happen to bad people. Things like this don’t happen to people like me...

Finally, he ripped the gun out of my hand. He pointed the barrel at my head and stood over me. 'Now I’m gonna have to kill you, bitch.' ... As quickly as it all happened, he was calm. And again, he said, very casually. 'How do I get out of here?' I pointed to the back exit, and he went out and I was alone. I never saw him again."

The investigation into Salau's death is ongoing and the Tallahassee Police Department has a suspect in custody, per PeopleThere is a GoFundMe campaign to help her family with expenses.

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Jennifer Nied

Jennifer Nied is a contributing writer for Women's Health with more than 10 years of writing and editing experience, specializing in wellness, adventure travel, and fitness, with work appearing in Budget Travel, American Spa, Women’s Health, and more.