A stunning Miss USA hopeful revealed Thursday that she was conceived when her mother was attacked and raped at knifepoint when she was 19 years old.
Miss Pennsylvania Valerie Gatto, 24, who will compete for the Miss USA crown on Sunday, told NBC’s “Today” show that she wants to use her mom’s rape experience to teach women to be more aware of sexual assault.
“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,” she told the network.
“Being a voice is life-changing, and I just want to keep going.”
Gatto said that her mother was attacked on a busy Pittsburgh street by a man who dragged her behind a building and raped her.
“My mom managed to get away,” Gatto told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
“He was going to murder her, but there was just this bright flash of light and he got scared and didn’t want any onlookers to see her and what he was doing to her.”
At a very young age, her mother told her: “Something bad happened to me. A very bad man hurt me, but God gave me you."