LIFE

Reese Witherspoon Opens Up About Her Sexual Assault As A Teen To Help Others Share Their Stories

by Gwendolyn Plummer
Gwen is a writer, reader, hockey fan, concert goer, and lunchtime enthusiast.

In the weeks since the news broke about Harvey Weinstein, thousands of women have been speaking up about their own experiences with sexual misconduct.

Over the weekend, actress Alyssa Milano asked any victims who feel comfortable to share their “me too” story regarding sexual misconduct, as a way to “give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.”

Alyssa was continuing a campaign that activist Tarana Burke had started about 10 years ago.

“Me too” participants hope that coming forward will do two things: show just how many people are affected by sexual misconduct, and help other victims feel less alone.

Thousands of people all over the world stepped forward — including actress Reese Witherspoon.

At the Elle Women In Hollywood event on Monday October 17, 2017, Reese gave a moving speech about sexual misconduct.

Thumbnail Photos: Instagram / Reese Witherspoon

[H/T: USA Today]

Additions to the Me Too hashtag

In the wake of the shocking sexual misconduct allegations against Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein, thousands of men and women have been speaking up about their own experiences with sexual misconduct.

Many hope that speaking up will make other survivors feel less alone, and that it will showcase how large this problem is.

Reese Witherspoon

On Monday night, many of Hollywood’s biggest names were gathered together for the Elle Women In Hollywood event.

Some women used the event as a moment to speak up, including actresses Jennifer Lawrence and Reese Witherspoon.

Reese Witherspoon

In a moving speech, Reese took to the stage to say, “I’ve had multiple experiences of harassment and sexual assault, and I don’t speak about them very often.”

Reese Witherspoon

Reese admitted that she’s had trouble sleeping since the news about Weinstein broke.

She told the crowd:

I have my own experiences that have come back to me very vividly. And I have found it hard to sleep, hard to think, hard to communicate [these last few days]. A lot of the feelings I’ve been having about anxiety, about being honest.

Reese opened up about the fact that she was assaulted by a director when she was just 16 years old. The abuse started there, and it continued throughout her career.

Reese Witherspoon

Reese said she was made to feel like abuse like this was standard, and that silence about the appalling way she was being treated “was a condition of my employment.”

Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman

Despite the darkness, Reese says all the people who have stepped forward in these past few days have inspired her.

She also told the crowd,

Hearing all of the stories these past few days and hearing these brave women speak out tonight about things we’re kind of told to sweep under the rug and not talk about, it’s made me want to speak up, and speak up loudly, because I felt less alone this week than I’ve ever felt in my entire career.

Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman

Feeling “less alone” is exactly what things like the “me too” campaign aim to do. Reese’s emotional speech was incredibly important, both for her and for the millions of other sexual misconduct victims worldwide.

Reese Witherspoon Instagram post about speech at Elle Women in Hollywood

Reese also shared her feelings about the emotional speech online.

On her post, hundreds of followers thanked her for her important, touching words.

Young Reese Witherspoon with a dog

Hopefully, stories like Reese’s can continue to make other people more comfortable with their own, helping the healing process in turn.

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