Reese Witherspoon has always been a voice for sexual harassment and assault in the film industry, but she recently revealed she first became a victim when she was just 16-years old.
The 41-year old actress reflected on her experience in Hollywood during her speech at the Elle Women in Hollywood event on Monday night. Amidst the wake of the sexual misconduct allegations against Harvey Weinstein, Witherspoon began, “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.”
She continued, “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.”
Witherspoon’s confession comes after dozens of other Hollywood starlets have opened up about times they became victims of sexual assault. Jennifer Lawrence revealed a producer once made her do a “naked line-up” where she was compared to other woman and advised to lose 15 pounds. The honesty of these A-list celebrities is undeniably a step of progress in starting a conversation and realizing the areas that desperately need improvement within the Hollywood film industry.
Witherspoon left her speech on a positive note, “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.”