Miss USA Contestant Valerie Gatto: I’m A “Product of Rape,” Want To Educate About Sexual Assault

Truth rating: 10
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By Daniel Gates

Valerie Gatto Miss USA rape sexual assault

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Valerie Gatto, who will represent Pennsylvania in the Miss USA Pageant on Sunday, revealed that she was “a product of rape,” and is using her experience to educate women about sexual assault. Miss Pennsylvania told Today that her mother was 19-years-old when she was attacked at knifepoint after leaving work and raped behind a building on a busy Pittsburgh street.

Gatto said she uses her mother’s experience as an example when speaking to young women about sexual assault awareness. “Unfortunately, we have to be aware of these crimes,” said Gatto. “I hope to show others how to be proactive, what to do, to be present, to be aware of your surroundings, little things like that.” She noted, “I’m educating women about a topic that’s so serious, but it’s so awesome to see their responses. They say it changes their life.”

Gatto, who is a marketing consultant by day, hopes to use the Miss USA title as a larger platform to reach more people. “I haven’t just been preparing for Miss USA for five months. It’s been my entire life,” she said. “Being a child of a rape, not knowing who my father is, not knowing if he’s ever been found, most people would think it’s such a negative situation.

“I grew up with my mom and my grandparents,” she explained. “They never looked at it as something negative. I have a loving, supportive family who told me I could be the president of the United States.” The pageant contestant said, “Being a voice is life-changing, and I just want to keep going.”

“I’m not sharing this story for publicity,” she added. “I’m not doing this for any selfish reasons. I truly am doing this to change the world and make a difference.” Gatto went on to say that “losing is not an option.” “In my mind, I believe that I’m already Miss USA,” she said. The 2014 Miss USA Pageant will air live on Sunday from Baton Rouge.

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