Evan Rachel Wood’s heartbreaking testimony before Congress about the sexual assault she endured is so important
In the past several months, scores of women have come forward with their painful stories about sexual assault. The #MeToo and #TimesUp movements have been exhilarating in some ways as we finally heard what women actually endure, and survivors have been able to find solace in knowing they’re not alone. But the flood of experiences surfacing has also been triggering for some survivors as they’re reminded of the horror they went through and the impact it continues to have on their lives. Evan Rachel Wood is one of those survivors, and this week, the Westworld actress bravely took her story to a national stage when she testified on Capitol Hill in hopes that the Sexual Assault Survivors’ Bill of Rights Act will be implemented in all 50 states.
The words Evan Rachel Wood shared are hard to hear, but they’re vital.
Content warning: The following contains descriptions of sexual assault.
Wood has been vocal about her past experience with sexual violence and has spoken out several times since the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements formed. In front of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security and Investigations in Washington, D.C. on February 27th, Wood joined fellow victims’ rights advocates Lauren Libby, Amanda Nguyen, and Rebecca O’Connor to push lawmakers to extend a law protecting sexual assault survivors’ rights beyond the nine states where it’s currently in place.
To emphasize the importance of those protections, Wood opened up about the assault she experienced — and she didn’t hold back.
"I'm here today to use my position as an artist, survivor, mother, and advocate to bring a human voice to the population of 25 million survivors in the U.S. who are currently experiencing inequality under the law and who desperately need basic civil rights," Wood began her testimony.
She went on to tell the story of being raped by an ex; being threatened, tied up and tortured; being brainwashed and gaslit; and being physically and mentally abused. Her experience, she said, led her to two suicide attempts and a diagnosis of longterm PTSD, among other ongoing issues.
"I thought I was the only human who experienced this, and I carried so much guilt and confusion about my response to the abuse," Wood said. "I accepted my powerlessness, and I felt I deserved it somehow."
The raw emotion of Wood’s testimony emphasized the importance of protecting survivors not only in the immediate aftermath of their trauma, but in the months and years to come, too, because this kind of abuse often continues to haunt survivors for the rest of their lives. “I was not fine, and I am not fine,” she said at one point. She also talked about her young son, and how she hopes to raise him in a world where men are no longer fed messages that they have uncontrollable impulses and innate violence inside them.
Her message is incredibly powerful, and it’s one more example of a woman using her platform to fight for others.
Watch Evan Rachel Wood’s heart-wrenching full testimony above (she starts speaking around 18:32).