Taking the next step. Nearly 15 years after Nick Carter allegedly raped Melissa Schuman, the Dream singer, 33, filed a police report against the 38-year-old Backstreet Boy with the Santa Monica Police Department on Wednesday, Feb. 7. Melissa explained why she decided to do so in a statement to Life & Style on Thursday morning.

“Filing the police report [on Wednesday] was the single most empowering thing I have ever done for myself. I thought it was an option I could no longer pursue,” the “He Loves U Not” songstress said. “A huge thank you to RAINN for empowering me to take this step.”

An investigation is currently underway. As previously reported, Melissa took to her blog back in November to reveal the traumatic details of the alleged sexual assault she says she endured at the hands of the boy bander in 2003, not long after they began filming their made-for-TV horror flick, The Hollow. Melissa, then 18, claimed that a 22-year-old Nick performed oral sex on her despite multiple refusals. He then allegedly forced Melissa to engage in a sexual act against her will before taking her into his bedroom and raping her at his Santa Monica apartment.

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Nick performing at the iHeartRadio Canada Jingle Ball on Dec. 9, 2017.

Nick has vehemently denied Melissa’s allegations. In November, after the blonde beauty’s accusations gained national attention, the former teen heartthrob issued a statement in which he claimed that their interaction was completely concordant. “I am shocked and saddened by Ms. Schuman’s accusations. Melissa never expressed to me while we were together or at any time since that anything we did was not consensual,” he said at the time. “We went on to record a song and perform together, and I was always respectful and supportive of Melissa both personally and professionally. This is the first time that I am hearing about these accusations, nearly two decades later. It is contrary to my nature and everything I hold dear to intentionally cause someone discomfort or harm.”

Earlier this month, Melissa opened up to Life & Style in an exclusive interview about the emotional aftermath of going public with her story. According to the mom-of-one — who shares son Elin Elijah, 7, with husband Brandon Henschel — she was shocked by Nick’s statement.

“I don’t even know how to describe the feeling [after hearing that],” Melissa — who gathered the courage to share her account as women across the entertainment industry spoke out against their assailants in the powerful #MeToo movement — said. “That was the first time that he ever admitted to me that he did anything.”

After coming clean about Nick’s alleged rape, Melissa is now ready to advocate for other sexual assault victims as a volunteer for RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), the nation’s largest anti-sexual abuse organization. “I wish I had known about RAINN when this all happened for me so that I could have had someone to talk to and support me. I’m reading so many stories on their website and it’s empowering,” she said. “These stories need to be shared so that we know that we’re not alone and that assault can happen in many different ways. There’s not just one carbon copy and there’s not just one way. It comes in all shapes and sizes.”

Melissa added, “I believe in fighting for what’s right and I just want to be a source of light for people. I want to help people and I want people to know that they are loved and they are worthy and that they matter. I refuse to be silenced until everyone knows that they matter — just like I matter. We all matter.”

If you need support, The National Sexual Assault Hotline is available 24/7 at 1-800-656-4673. You will be connected with a trained staff member in your area. Or visit RAINN.org to chat online one-on-one with a support specialist at any time.