Movies & TV / News

Reese Witherspoon Reveals She Was Sexually Assaulted At 16 By A Director

October 17, 2017 | Posted by Joseph Lee
Reese Witherspoon

Reese Witherspoon is the latest actress to open up with a tale of sexual assault. At Elle’s Women in Hollywood event (via The Hollywood Reporter), the same event where Jennifer Lawrence spoke about her own degrading experience, Witherspoon revealed she was sexually assaulted at the age of sixteen by a director. Witherspoon has been acting since 1991.

She said: “[I feel] true disgust at the director who assaulted me when I was 16 years old and anger at the agents and the producers who made me feel that silence was a condition of my employment. And I wish I could tell you that was an isolated incident in my career, but sadly it wasn’t. I’ve had multiple experiences of harassment and sexual assault and I don’t speak about them very often.

This has been a really hard week for women in Hollywood, for women all over the world and a lot of situations and a lot of industries that are forced to remember and relive a lot of ugly truths. I have my own experiences that have come back to me very vividly and I find it really hard to sleep, hard to think, hard to communicate a lot of the feelings that I’ve been having about anxiety, about being honest, the guilt for not speaking up earlier, for not taking action.

After hearing all the stories these past few days and hearing these brave women speak up tonight about things that we’re kind of told to sweep under the rug and not to talk about, it’s made me want to speak up and speak up loudly because actually I felt less alone this week than I have felt in my entire career. I have just spoken to so many actresses and writers, particularly women, who have had similar experiences and many of them have bravely gone public with their stories. That truth is very encouraging to me and to everyone out there in the world because you can only heal by telling the truth.

I feel really, really encouraged that there will be a new normal. For the young women in this room, life is going to be different because we have your back and it makes me feel better because, gosh, it’s about time.… I’m so sad that I have to talk about these issues, but I would be remiss not to.

There’s a lot of people here who negotiate quite frequently with direct companies and heads of companies. I think maybe at your next negotiation this is a really prudent time to ask important questions like, ‘Who are your top female executives? Do those women have green light power? How many women are on the board of your company? How many women are in a key position of decision-making at your company?’ It seems so obvious but people don’t ask those questions, and if we can raise consciousness and really create change, that’s what’s going to change in this industry and change society.

The event was held at the Four Seasons in Beverly Hills. Keynote speaker and Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy said that studios, unions, guilds and talent agencies should create a commission that would create protections against harassment and abuse. This would include “zero tolerance policies for abusive behavior, and a secure, reliable, unimpeachable system in which victims of abuse can report what’s happened to them with a confident expectation that action will be taken, without placing their employment, reputations and careers at risk.”

article topics :

Reese Witherspoon, Joseph Lee