Reese Witherspoon has opened up about her own sexual assault that took place when she was 16.


The actress, no 41, shared at the Elle Women in Hollywood event that was was assaulted by a Hollywood director. “[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,” she said at the event. “And I wish that 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.”

Witherspoon decided to come forward with her experience after “a really hard week for women,” in light of the Harvey Weinstein scandal. The feelings, she said, came rushing back to her after so many women shared their own stories of sexual assault. “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, honest, the guilt for not speaking up earlier,” she said. “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 I actually felt less alone this week than I have ever felt in my entire career.”

Witherspoon was working on three projects at the time in 1993 – A Far Off PlaceJack the Bear, and TV mini-series Return to Lonesome Drive – thus, it is impossible to know which director she was speaking of.

Witherspoon joins dozens of actresses and actors who are coming forward this week with their experiences of enduring sexual assault in Hollywood. Ashley Judd and Rose McGowan were originally named in the exposé on Weinstein, and since then many more are coming forward.

“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 everyone out there in the world because you can only heal by telling the truth,” Witherspoon concluded at the Elle event. “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’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.”

Read more about:

Leave a comment