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Reese Witherspoon says she was sexually assaulted by a director at age 16

Reese Witherspoon spoke out about her experiences with sexual harassment and sexual assault in Hollywood just days after the Harvey Weinstein scandal blew up.

At Elle’s 24th Annual Women in Hollywood event on Monday night, the actress spoke publicly for the first time about an incident that occurred when she was just 16, Decider reports.

“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. 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.”

She didn’t elaborate on the assault, or name the director who was responsible, but she did say that it was not an “isolated incident in [her] career,” and that there have been many more incidents that she doesn’t speak about often, according to Elle.

Witherspoon went on to laud the women who came out about Harvey Weinstein’s mistreatment of them for giving her the courage to come forward with her own experiences.

“I actually felt less alone this week than I have ever felt in my entire career.”

The actress said she felt comforted that there is a “new normal,” and that women in Hollywood now have each other’s backs more than ever. She encouraged women in the film industry, and all industries, to help raise consciousness of these issues, which will, in turn, help to create change.

 

[Feature image: Associated Press]