Content warning: This post contains an account of rape and sexual assault which may be triggering for some readers.
For many, Fran Drescher is simply synonymous with her iconic onscreen persona Fran Fine.
But the star of The Nanny is also a cancer survivor, and has inspired countless victims of sexual violence by speaking openly about her own experience of sexual assault for many years.
In 1985, Drescher and her ex-husband Peter Marc Jacobson lived through a home invasion by two men during which the actress and a female friend were raped at gunpoint.
Jacobson was restrained and forced to watch the horrific attack.
The pair, who divorced in 1999, are in Australia presently and spoke frankly with Studio 10 about the ordeal.
“The whole rape experience was so surreal,” he told Studio 10.
“We were home, having dinner with a friend. They broke the door down — it was locked. You try to live, you try to get through it alive. The police said, ‘Whatever you did, you did it right, because you’re alive’.”
It was another eight years before Drescher became a household name when the show they co-created, The Nanny, became an international sensation.
Three years into the series in 1996 she released her popular memoir Enter Whining, which detailed the robbery for the public for the first time and struck a chord with many.
“There were women that asked me to sign that particular chapter," Drescher told Studio 10.
"I didn’t write the book until I was already famous, like 10 years later. I thought, if people can see where I went from that low point to where I am now, maybe it’ll help and inspire other women — and men for that matter — who have been sexually assaulted, to move on.
"To feel your pain, then try and pick up the pieces and put yourself back up together... Turn your pain into purpose, which is what I always do.”
While Drescher is able to call on her experience now, she said she didn’t deal with "[the] pain, with the rape for many, many, many years".
She also noted "a poetic correlation" between suppressing her trauma and later developing uterine cancer.
"It ends up being very poetic in where the body decides to break down and create disease,” she said.
Drescher and Jacobson both attribute the cancer with bringing them back together, however, after a messy divorce drove them apart when Jacobson realised he was gay.
“There’s always silver linings to even the darkest cloud: us becoming friends again and moving into this new relationship," Drescher said.
If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault, domestic or family violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit 1800RESPECT.org.au. In an emergency, call 000. For more information about a service in your state or local area, download the DAISY App in the App Store or Google Play.