Gabrielle Union on how she overcame being raped at gunpoint aged 19

Gabrielle Union opened up about how she overcame being raped at gunpoint aged 19 on The View this morning, encouraging others who have been through the same not to wear the 'victim hat.'

The 41-year-old actress, who is set to wed her 32-year-old NBA player beau Dwyane Wade this year, told viewers: 'When something catastrophic happens in life everyone rallies around you but it's not for something positive and I hated that.

'I hated feeling like a victim, it makes you lazy. I wanted to embrace being a survivor. I was raised to be an independent woman. That's the road I decided to take.'

The Being Mary Jane star added that she was 'lucky' the ordeal happened in an affluent area, because the 'under-worked' police department and rape crisis center were quick to respond.

But she said her 'power' really came back when she successfully sued Payless ShoeSource for negligence

It was in one of the footwear brand's California stores where the incident took place. Ms Union had taken a summer job there and was just closing up when a man robbed the shop and sexually assaulted her at gunpoint.

It later transpired that her attacker had actually been a former employee of another Payless store which he had robbed, and where he had also raped another employee. The man was charged criminally and finally sentenced to 33 years in prison, and Ms Union won her negligence lawsuit against Payless.

Concluding on the subject, Ms Union warned parents to check out the criminal history of businesses before sending their children off to work there. After she managed to find strength with the help of friends, family and counselors, the Nabraska native returned to  the University of California in Los Angeles graduating with a degree in sociology.

However, after interning at a model and talent agency she went on to enter the world of show business. Among her notable roles is as a cheerleader opposite Kirsten Dunst in the 2000 film Bring It On and as Syd in the blockbuster Bad Boys II. She is currently the star of the drama series, Being Mary Jane.