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Oscar-winning actress and producer Reese Witherspoon says she was sexually assaulted by a director when she was 16, and it wasn’t the last time it happened to her.
Witherspoon, 41, said that she felt “true disgust” at the director who assaulted her, and anger at the agents and producers who made her feel like “true silence was a condition” of her employment, during her speech at Elle’s Women in Hollywood event in Beverly Hills on Monday night.
Witherspoon began her speech saying how hard it has been over that past week for women in the industry and women all over the world.
Here’s the rest of her speech that she made before introducing Laura Dern, her “Big Little Lies” costar to the stage:
“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. 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. But 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. But 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.”
Over the past several years, Witherspoon has made an effort to produce and star in more female-driven stories for women of all ages. Witherspoon, along with her costar Nicole Kidman, executive produced HBO’s Emmy-winning series, “Big Little Lies.” Witherspoon also helped books like “Wild” and “Gone Girl” get adapted from page to screen.