Camila Mendes Shares How She Healed After Sexual Assault

US actress Camila Mendes arrives for the premiere of “The Sun Is Also A Star” world premiere at Pacific Theaters at The Grove in Los Angeles, California, on May 13, 2019. (Photo by LISA O’CONNOR / AFP) (Photo credit should read LISA O’CONNOR/AFP/Getty Images)

Riverdale star Camila Mendes opened up about being sexually assaulted as a college freshman in a cover story for Women’s Health. Discussing her tattoo, which reads “to build a home” above her rib, Mendes said,  “I got the tattoo after my freshman year… I had a very, very bad experience; I was roofied by someone who sexually assaulted me.”

Women’s Health notes, “The tattoo reminds her to strengthen both her sense of self and the environment around her.” Mendes shared, “Moving around throughout my whole childhood was a bit traumatic.” She moved more than 12 times before age 18. “You’re constantly saying goodbye to people, and you’re constantly being removed from your identity. When you start to feel like you’re connecting with a group of people, an environment, and a home — a physical home — it can be destabilising when you’re uprooted and taken somewhere else.” She added, “If you don’t have that literal box, you have to create it in your habits.”

For Mendes, these habits include being active and making sure she gets at least seven hours of sleep at night. “Whenever I feel like I’m going through something difficult, I think about what I can do physically for myself,” she said, adding, “People sometimes put working out first and don’t give their bodies rest. I’ll always choose sleep first. I think it’s just so underrated.” 

In the cover story, she also discussed her recovery from bulimia — something she went public about last year. “I’ve only recently gotten better,” she said, adding that she worked with a therapist and nutritionist. “I needed professionals I trusted to tell me things that I didn’t know.”

Now, Mendes wants to be a role model for her fans. “It’s health that’s important, not appearance,” she said. “I make choices that are good for me — and not just in my body — but for my soul, for my mind. And sometimes that’s eating ice cream because I want to eat ice cream.”

If you have experienced sexual violence of any kind, please visit Rape Crisis or call 0808 802 9999.

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