January 22, 2018 10:20 PM

Lucy Hale is applauding the brave women who have come forward with their heartbreaking #MeToo stories and using her own voice to help make a difference.

Last Thursday, the actress, 28, alluded to a sexual assault incident in now-deleted posts on both her Twitter and Instagram pages, saying “I never understood sexual assault until tonight. I always sympathized, but I never felt the pain of it until right now. My dignity and pride was broken. I am completely at a loss of words.”

Speaking to PEOPLE on Monday at an event in West Hollywood, the Pretty Little Liars star said the wave of women speaking out has been “awesome.”

“I feel grateful to have people that I look up to that are speaking up about things,” said Hale. “Not just women — I think men have sometimes suffered the same way that women have. And as long as a conversation is going or a conversation has started, which it has, that’s the best thing you could ever ask for because that makes people feel not alone. I think if powerful people can make a difference by speaking up, which they are, that will trickle down hopefully.”

RELATED VIDEO: Lucy Hale Shares the Real Meaning Behind Her Most Recent Tattoo

In her deleted social media post, Hale also told her followers she would “not let a moment go by that I don’t try to make a difference”— and she plans to see that promise through.

“My whole thing is I never want to be someone who makes it all shiny and rainbows all the time, because it’s not,” said Hale. “No one ever feels like that 24/7.”

To donate to the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund, which will provide subsidized legal support to women and men in all industries who have experienced sexual harassment, assault, or abuse in the workplace, visit its GoFundMe page. Learn more about Time’s Up, an organization of women in entertainment combating sexual harassment and inequality, on its website.

While she is hoping to give her fans the confidence to speak up for themselves, Hale says she is equally as thankful for their support.

“They’re the most amazing through anything,” she says. “There can be times when I feel like no one in the world gets something, and I can read something through one of the people who supports me and I’m like ‘Holy s—. I am not alone in any of this.’ They’ve stuck by me through the good and the bad. I’m so grateful.”

You May Like

EDIT POST