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Jada Pinkett Smith Shares How Sexual Assault Affected Her Family

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Jada Pinkett Smith speaks onstage at the ’Gotham’ panel during the 2014 Summer Television Critics Association at The Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California.
Photo Credit: Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

Jada Pinkett Smith says the issue of sexual assault hits close to home.

The actress recently shared how her 20-year-old niece was sexually assaulted while out drinking with friends, reports PEOPLE. "She's 20 years old – thank God nothing happened because she was with some responsible guys that took care of her," shared Pinkett Smith while promoting her upcoming new series Gotham at the Fox's TCA.

The 42-year-old went on to explain that her niece's friends realized she had been drugged after she said, "Oh, my god, I can't feel my…" and then started to lose consciousness. In an effort to educate her own daughter on the issue, Pinkett Smith had her niece share her experience with Willow and a couple of her friends.

"It's one thing to sit with me as her mother: It's like 'Okay, Mom, yeah, I get that.' But when you have your 20-year-old cousin that comes in, and she's like, 'This is what happened,' and it was somebody you looked up to as well, it's like, 'Oh, man, this is really real.'"

As a mother, Pinkett Smith feels the best way she can empower her daughter to prevail against becoming a victim is by encouraging her individuality. "When you allow a person to be an individual and you allow a person to have power within and have confidence with who they are, she'll never have to look in the eyes of a man and question whether it's a 'yes' or a 'no' – she's going to be very clear," she said.

The incident also helped Pinkett Smith vow to speak up for victims of sexual assault. "There is an epidemic going on out here in regards to the treatment of women," she said. "We have to figure out how we can empower people in different ways."

What other ways can we empower our daughters, sisters, and friends against sexual assault? Share your advice below.

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