Reese Witherspoon was assaulted by a director when she was 16 years old.
The 41-year-old actress made the revelation as she took to the stage at the Elle Women in Hollywood Awards on Monday night (16Oct17), using the opportunity to come clean about her own experiences with sexual harassment and abuse in the industry in the wake of the numerous allegations made about producer Harvey Weinstein’s behavior.
“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. 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, honest, the guilt for not speaking up earlier.
“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.”
Reese also added that the incident wasn’t the only time she had been abused as an actress.
“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.”
The mother-of-three added that hearing the tales about Weinstein from her peers had inspired her to speak about her own experiences.
“After hearing all the stories these past few days and hearing these brave women speak up tonight about things we’re told to sweep under the rug, 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.”
Concluding her speech, Legally Blonde star Reese told the audience that she hopes her story will encourage others to come forward with their own stories, to allow them to “heal”.
“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.”