Reese Witherspoon opened up on a podcast about her experience leaving an abusive relationship.


On Oprah Winfrey‘s podcast, Oprah’s SuperSoul Conversations, the actress shared with Winfrey and Mindy Kaling about how leaving an abusive relationship helped her realize her life’s potential and her own ambition. She hopes that sharing her story will help others who find themselves in similar situations.

Winfrey asked her two guests, “What’s the most difficult decision you’ve had to make to fulfill your destiny?” Witherspoon responded with, “For me, probably leaving an abusive relationship.”

The host then asked to elaborate on the type of abuse: “Was it physically? Verbally? Both?”

“Psychological, verbal, um… Yeah,” Witherspoon said before adding more about the specific moment when she knew she had to leave. “A line got drawn in the sand and it got crossed. My brain just switched. I knew it was going to be very difficult, but I just couldn’t go any further. It was profound, and I was young, really young.”

The actress explained that leaving her abuser gave her a new power, and that power transformed into the drive she needed to reach new heights in her acting career. She explained that her decision to finally stand up for herself changed her “on a cellular level.”

“I’m a different person now, and it’s part of the reason I can stand up and say, ‘Yes, I’m ambitious,’ is because someone tried to take that from me,” she said.

Love these ladies! @Oprah @Mindykaling @Oprahmagazine 💕

A post shared by Reese Witherspoon (@reesewitherspoon) on

Witherspoon has been a champion in the recent and ongoing #MeToo movement, as well as the Time’s Up initiative. “I stand with ALL WOMEN across every industry to say #TIMESUP on abuse, harassment, marginalization and underrepresentation. Join me! Sign the statement of solidarity & donate to the @TIMESUPNOW Legal Defense Fund,” she wrote in a Jan. 1 Instagram post.

In 2012, the actress co-launched Pacific Standard, a production company specifically made to tell the stories of women. It was behind HBO’s Big Little Lies, which Witherspoon spoke about with Winfrey. “Each one of us had very specific experiences,” she shared. “It was a range of experiences, but there wasn’t a woman there that hadn’t been affected by abuse. Not one of those women, and it’s why we decided to make this show. And I’m hard-pressed to find any group of women where you can’t say, ‘it happened to my sister,’ ‘it happened to my mom’ or ‘I saw this.’ And there’s a range of abuse, there’s verbal, there’s psychological, there’s so many things other than physical that can be completely detrimental to your self-worth, your self-esteem and your progress.”

Witherspoon was married to actor Ryan Phillippe from 1999-2017.

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