When a famous actor asks for encouragement by way of cheers, thumbs-ups and fist-pumps before she testifies on Capitol Hill, it puts into perspective how difficult it can be to talk about sexual abuse.
Evan Rachel Wood, famous for “Westworld” and “Thirteen,” testified Tuesday before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security and Investigations and shared own story of being abused.
“I’m an artist but I’m also a domestic violence and sexual assault survivor and a single mother of a young boy,” she said as she introduced herself.
Wood spoke of being raped and repeatedly abused by her partner, and then being raped by another man. She struggled with post-traumatic stress disorder and attempted suicide.
While listening to the rest of the panel’s testimony, she looked up to the ceiling to keep herself from crying.
“I struggle to speak to you today because I’m not sure what words are appropriate when discussing this issue,” she said.
Wood shared her chilling stories to promote the so-called Survivors’ Bill of Rights Act of 2016. The hearing examined the successes and challenges of the legislation, which established that survivors in federal cases have a right to a sexual assault evidence collection kit, to be notified before the kit is destroyed, to request preservation of the kit and to be informed of forensic examination results.
Watch: Actress Evan Rachel Wood Testifies About Being Sexually Assaulted
“I hope we can find a way to teach our women to not go inward and make everything their fault. … I think we can teach men to express things better and not take things out on other people,” she said. “It’s going to take a shift of consciousness.”
If you see me in the airport or on the streets of DC, dont be afraid to cheer me on, give me a thumbs up, a fist in the air, anything. I feel strong but shaky and it helps to know people are rooting for the 25 million survivors in the U.S. @RiseNowUS ✊🏻#EvanInDc pic.twitter.com/Jrj9cQxw3u— #EvanRachelWould (@evanrachelwood) February 26, 2018
She appeared humbled and quiet as she listened to the other women on the panel, including RISE CEO and founder Amanda Nguyen, also a sexual assault survivor. Nguyen founded her group to push for survivors’ bill of rights legislation in Congress and across state legislatures.
“You understand that nothing that happened to you was your fault. You understand that, right?” Texas Republican Rep. Louie Gohmert told the panel, bringing Wood to tears.
A half hour before the hearing, she tweeted, “I am already crying.”
She spoke about the #MeToo movement that has gone viral across multiple industries. She said that while the movement is validating, it is also “incredibly painful” as it reminds her of her experience.
As a mother, Wood said she is hoping to help men as well.
“I’m also here to advocate for men and for my son who I hope grows up knowing he is much more valuable than that,” she said. “[I’m] coming to the aid of our girls and also our young boys.”
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