"You never know who you might be saving or inspiring by talking," McCord tells PEOPLE

By Rose Minutaglio
Updated March 18, 2016 03:50 PM
Credit: Brent N. Clarke/WireImage

AnnaLynne McCord, a fierce advocate for those who have endured sexual and physical violence, is speaking out in support of Kesha and Lady Gaga, who have both recently spoken about sexual abuse.

“You never know who you might be saving or inspiring by talking,” McCord tells PEOPLE. “To have these stars share their stories, it is so powerful to a survivor who might feel like nobody knows what they are feeling, who feels alone.”

In 2014, the Dallas star, 28, shared her own story of survival. After growing up in a physically abusive household, she moved to Los Angeles to pursue acting. The then 18-year-old actress says she woke up one night in her apartment to find a male friend raping her.

McCord says she “humbly thanks” stars for coming forward with their own inspiring tales of endurance.

“Thank you to every person who says, ‘I don’t care if you judge me or shame me, but this is my story and this is who I am,’ ” she says. “I m not defined by this, but I will not stand by and allow it to be what brings me down.”

McCord says Kesha, who is currently embroiled in a legal battle with her longtime music producer Dr. Luke – whom she claims drugged and raped her – is “giving the biggest F-U to her [alleged] abuser.” (Dr. Luke, who is countersuing Kesha for breach of contract and defamation, vehemently denies the allegations; I didn’t rape Kesha, and I have never had sex with her. Kesha and I were friends for many years and she was like my little sister,” Luke tweeted last month.)

“This is the beginning of what we’re going to see from Kesha, she is going to take over the planet with her strength,” says McCord. “She’s going to get out and do that contract and she will continue to be who she was destined to be and that, will be a beautiful thing.”

(Last month, Luke’s attorney, Christine Lepera, maintained the hitmaker’s innocence in a statement last month, saying: “Ms. [Kesha] Sebert, who in sworn videotaped testimony from 2011 stated that she had never been sexually abused or drugged by Dr. Luke, is neither a victim nor the appropriate person to be held up as an example for this important issue.)

At Wednesday’s 2016 Help USA awards luncheon in New York City, McCord met with 30 survivors of domestic violence.

“I’ve received thousands of emails from survivors after sharing my story, and I try to respond to every single one,” she says. “To know the impact [my story] can have on these women and men has helped to solidify my own healing process and my passion or speaking out as much as I possibly can on this topic.”

The 90210 star says trauma survivors have an “unspoken bond.”

“I call it being bonded through tragedy,” she says. “It’s something about the way the other person gets you, and you get it, and the connection is just there. Like, I know where you’re at and I know where you’ve been.”

She adds, “There’s never any judgment and I feel acceptance and love with male and female survivors.”