Actress Evan Rachel Wood was one of the women who appeared before the House Judiciary Subcommittee yesterday, advocating in favor of the Sexual Assault Survivors’ Bill of Rights Act to be implemented in all 50 states (it has only been passed in nine). The act, which guarantees statutory rights for victims of rape and sexual assault, was first passed on the federal level in 2016. Joining the Westworld star to give evidence in the hearing were founder and CEO of RISE Amanda Nguyen, RISE chief of staff of Lauren Libby, and RAINN Vice President Rebecca O’Connor.
Wood’s detailed testimony described her experience of being raped by two different men on separate occasions, and the ensuing PTSD and feelings of powerlessness, guilt and confusion she has experienced over time. She said during her testimony that these experiences had occurred “a decade ago.” Wood said that her multiple rapes had subsequently induced “depression, addiction, agoraphobia, and night terrors.” Early on in her statement, she described her experiences with her first rapist. Via the Cut:
…toxic mental, physical and sexual abuse which started slow but escalated over time, including threats against my life, severe gas-lighting and brainwashing, waking up to the man that claimed to love me raping what he believed to be my unconscious body. And the worst part–sick rituals of binding me up by my hands and feet to be mentally and physically tortured until my abuser felt I had proven my love for them. In this moment, while I was tied up and being beaten and told unspeakable things, I truly felt like I could die. Not just because my abuser said to me, ‘I could kill you right now,’ but because in that moment I felt like I left my body and I was too afraid to run. He would find me.
Wood went onto detail her experience with a second assailant, which allegedly occurred when she was “pushed onto the floor of a locked storage closest by another attacker, after hours at a bar.” She explained that “being abused and raped previously made it easier for me to be raped again, not the other way around.”
“Sometimes we are pushed down not just by our attackers, but held there by the knowledge that there may be no safe place to go,” Wood said.
The actress also said she “struggled with self-harm to the point of two suicide attempts, which landed me in a psychiatric hospital for a short period of time.” She said she then began to seek “professional help to deal with my trauma and mental stress.”
Wood first spoke out about her abuse in a 2016 Rolling Stone profile, saying that she had been raped by “a significant other while we were together” and “the owner of a bar.” She later shared her full “confession letter” to the magazine on social media. Last year, Wood posted a video message in the midst of the Harvey Weinstein allegations being revealed, and explained that she has not yet named her abusers “not because I don’t plan on saying these peoples’ names eventually, but because to start that process is an emotionally draining, financially draining, really-everything draining thing…to go through, and I want to do it when I’m ready.” She referred to them in the video as “very powerful, very rich, very entitled, very narcissistic white men.”
You can watch the full congressional hearing below, and see Wood’s five-minute statement around the 18:30 mark.