Former child star Abigail Breslin, 20, has opened up her own experience of suffering sexual assault.

The actress, who is currently filming the ABC TV movie remake of Dirty Dancing, made a powerful statement on social media to raise awareness of violence against women during Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

In an Instagram post, she addressed the matter of consent, stating: "You are not obligated to have sex with someone that you're in a relationship with. Dating is not consent. Marriage is not consent."

She added: "I knew my assailant."

Using the hashtag #SexualAssaultAwarenessMonth and #breakthesilence. the post prompted many other women to share their own experiences of abuse.

"My boyfriend in high school sexually abused me for a year. I was 17. I'm now 24 and I'm just now realizing what he did to me was abuse," said one woman, explaining: "I wanted to wait for marriage, but he used his love for me as an argument to get me to have sex with him. He would guilt me into it. This still haunts me to this day. Thank you for sharing this. It's so important."'


i knew my assailant. #SexualAssaultAwarenessMonth #breakthesilence

A post shared by Abigail Breslin (@abbienormal9) on Apr 10, 2017 at 10:47pm PDT

"Mine was an ex-boyfriend. I have been very happily married for 15 yrs, but those scars are still there," said another.

Many of the commentators praised Breslin for starting the difficult discussion and allowing other women to share their experiences.

"I commend your bravery in speaking your truth. Thank you for being bold and using your platform for the greater good," said one.

Another woman wrote: "I did as well. Thank you for sharing and using your platform to advocate for those who may feel like they have no voice."

Her bold post comes after former Friends star David Schwimmer launched a campaign to raise awareness of sexual harassment with a series of videos. The campaign titled '#ThatsHarassment,' comprises six short films produced by Schwimmer, which portray re-enactments of women's real-life experiences of sexual assault.

Attacks against women are more likely to be committed by someone they know. According to The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 14% to 25% of women will be sexually assaulted by a partner.

Women who are sexually assaulted within a relationship suffer severe and long-lasting physical and mental health problems such as PTSD, similar to those of other rape victims.

However, the issue of consent within a relationship continues to be contentious. as the organisation claims many Americans "do not believe marital rape is actually rape". As a result, women rarely report such incidents that occur within an intimate relationship.

The coalition states that the matter of consent is clear: whether you are "in a relationship with someone, or even a marriage, that person has no right to have sex with you whenever they want".

Sexual Assault Awareness Month runs through April.