Reese Witherspoon Reveals That a Director Sexually Assaulted Her When She Was 16
"I wish that I could tell you that it was an isolated incident in my career, but sadly it wasn't."
Allegations of sexual misconduct against Oscar-winning producer Harvey Weinstein have encouraged women in Hollywood to come forward and share their own harrowing stories of harassment. Reese Witherspoon is the latest actress to speak out, revealing that she was 16 the first time she was sexually assaulted. And sadly, it wasn't the last. (Related: How the #MeToo Movement Is Spreading Awareness About Sexual Assault)
"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 are forced to remember and relive a lot of ugly truths," the 41-year-old said during her speech at the 2017 ELLE Women in Hollywood event on Monday night.
"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," she continued. "[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."
"I wish that I could tell you that was an isolated incident in my career, but sadly it wasn't," she said. "I've had multiple experiences of harassment and sexual assault and I don't speak about them very often."
Ever since dozens of women have stepped forward and accused Weinstein-Cara Delevingne, Rose McGowan, and Angelina Jolie included-Reese said that she's felt inspired by their bravery and felt that she owed it to them to share her own story as well. "After hearing all the stories these past few days...and hearing 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 I actually felt less alone this week than I have ever felt in my entire career," she said.
She hopes that speaking up might lead to a better future, where sexual harassment is no longer the norm. "I feel really, really encouraged that there will be a new normal," she said. "For the young women in this room, life is going to be different because we're with you, we have your back and it makes me feel better. It makes me so sad to talk about these issues, but I would be remiss not to."