Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty
The INSIDER Summary:
- Actress Evan Rachel Wood has been public about being a sexual assault survivor.
- She says she was raped twice, but has never named the perpetrators.
- In response to the Harvey Weinstein assault and harassment reports, Wood recorded a video explaining why his accusers likely waited so long to speak up.
- Wood says it’s extremely traumatizing to publicly accuse an assailant.
- It also takes time and money, and women risk losing their livelihoods.
- Women are fearful of their perpetrators and lack faith in the justice system.
- Wood says she might name her abusers one day, but not until she is ready.
Evan Rachel Wood is the latest Hollywood star weighing in on the public conversation surrounding Harvey Weinstein and the numerous allegations of sexual assault being made against him. In a video Wood posted to YouTube, the “Westworld” actress explains why she and other women often stay silent after being assaulted or harassed.
“I have not named my abusers,” said Wood, who has spoken publicly about being a sexual assault survivor. “Not because I don’t plan on saying these names eventually, but because to start that process is emotionally draining and financially draining, really an everything draining thing to do and to go through. And I want to do it when I’m ready.”
She described her assailants as “very powerful, very rich, very entitled, and very narcissistic white men.” It can be especially difficult for victims to come forward if their abusers are powerful.
“It is a terrifying thing to have to go through mainly because you’re at risk of not being believed and your career being hurt,” Wood said in the video. “You [also risk] being drained of your finances because it costs a lot of money to file a lawsuit and go to court with somebody, especially if all you have is your word against theirs and especially if these are very powerful people. Once again you’re at the mercy of your abusers and you’ve kicked a hornet’s nest and you have a target on your back.”
Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images
Wood then launched into an explanation of how she has processed her own trauma, and how it’s hard for her to continue leaving her abusers unnamed. But her fear of the perpetrators and the fear of facing people who don’t believe her is too strong. She said:
Maybe this is an irrational fear, but I don’t think it is. What I can tell you is it’s because sometimes the act is so traumatizing, or you’re so ashamed of it or you’re so confused by it or you’re so scared of your perpetrators, you’re silenced … sometimes for years, sometimes your whole life.
It took me seven years after I was raped to admit to myself that I even was raped and that I should be upset, and to get help for the trauma that I endured. I’m still working through what happened years later. I’m still on that step, which is another reason why I don’t feel strong enough or ready enough to name my abusers.
I name them to everybody that I know. But as far as welcoming the media and lawyers and the courts into this … and this is a hard thing to say because I feel we have a responsibility to name our abusers so that it doesn’t happen to other people, but I am not ready to go through that and to relive those things and to face those people
I should not be punished for that. The fact that women are still afraid to name their abusers is not their fault.
Wood then addressed the accusations against Harvey Weinstein specifically:
I’ve heard numerous stories about Harvey Weinstein, and I’m pretty sure everyone I know has as well. It was so normalized and it was talked about in such a way that when you’re warned about Harvey Weinstein (because most actresses are … it’s just the truth) it was passed off as “Oh that’s just crazy Harvey, everybody knows just be careful about that one.”
Some men that I’ve talked to have said, “Oh well I heard stories but I just thought he hit on girls a lot.”
Okay sure he hit on a girls a lot, but what does that actually mean? Did he go over there and introduce himself and ask their names and what they did? Or did he grope them inappropriately? Or did he offer them money? Or offer them favors in exchange for sex? That’s not hitting on women, that’s being a sexual predator and abusing your power and cornering vulnerable women into submission.
Wood presented a solution to what she identified as the “global epidemic.” She said women in the industry and all over the world need to tell people about being assaulted or harassed, even if they don’t want to name them in the public media sphere or press charges.
“Tell your colleagues, tell your friends, tell everybody their names,” Wood said. “And then it’s up to us to not work with these people if you know. That’s where it starts. Spread that s— around.”
Wood said she’s walked out of award shows in the past because she saw “abusers and sexual predators” walk on stage and “accept a statue.” But she said she hasn’t left Hollywood yet, because she believes it’s important for her to “stay and fight” from the inside.
She ends the video with a powerful statement:
We need to make people feel safe enough to come forward. You shouldn’t have to weigh your livelihood, your job, everything you’ve ever worked for, your reputation, your friends, your safety. That’s why women don’t come forward.
These are the two things keeping women from telling their stories: No faith in the system that it will actually work for them and fear of their perpetrators. I’m not ashamed to say that I’m not ready to come forth with the names, because I’m here to identify a problem. I’m here to tell you that I’m afraid and I don’t think that’s my fault. I’m here to tell you that I’m afraid so that we can identify the problem.
Watch the full video below: