Miss Pennsylvania USA 2014 Valerie Gatto wants to bring a voice and face to victims of sexual assault. While competing for the Miss USA crown, Gatto shared that she's a product of rape.
On June 6, the 24-year-old Pittsburgh native wrote about her personal story on her Facebook page:
"If you know me, you know that I have always been vocal about my story and an advocate for sexual assault and rape. Now, to see everything unfold to the world, it is fulfilling and life changing. I will post links to articles posted within the last 24 hours! Thank you for all of your support, I appreciate it from the bottom of my heart!"
During the Miss USA competition, Gatto explained that her mother was raped at 19-years-old. Gatto says she's not letting it stop her from being the woman she is today. She wants to educate women on sexual assault so they may protect themselves. She is a former Girl Scout and graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a degree in marketing.
"Your circumstances do not define your life and you should not judge someone by where they come from," Gatto said.
The Miss USA competition aired on NBC Sunday evening. Gatto finished in the top 20.