Westworld star Evan Rachel Wood has spoken to the U.S. Congress about sexual assault.
Appearing in front of the U.S. legislature in Washington D.C. as they debated an incoming Sexual Assault Survivors’ Bill of Rights Act, the actress gave a powerful testimony on her own experiences of sexual assault and abuse at the hands of a former partner.
“If you can’t hear the whole truth, you will never know true empathy,” Wood said, before going into graphic detail about her own experiences. “And I believe in the saying, ‘If we have to live through it, you should have to hear it.'”
Trigger warning: the below testimony features graphic detail of sexual assault and emotional abuse.
Describing her “toxic” relationship, Wood stated: “It started slow but escalated over time, including threats against my life, severe gas-lighting and brainwashing, [and] 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.”
She continued: “While I was tied up and being beaten and told unspeakable things, I truly felt like I could die,” Wood said. “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.
“Because of this abuse… when I was pushed onto the floor of a locked storage closest by another attacker, after hours at a bar, my body instinctively knew what to do: Disappear, go numb, make it go away,” Wood said. “Being abused and raped previously made it easier for me to be raped again — not the other way around.”
Detailing her experiences with PTSD, and “depression, addiction, agoraphobia, and night terrors” in the years following her multiple attacks. “I struggled with self-harm to the point of two suicide attempts which landed me in a psychiatric hospital for a short period of time. This was however a turning point in my life when I started seeking professional help to deal with my trauma and mental stress.
“But others are not so fortunate, and because of this rape is often more than a few minutes of trauma, but slow death.”
“[This bill is] the recognition of basic civil rights for sexual assault survivors and serves as a first step,” Wood said. “It’s a safety net that may help save someone’s life one day.”
Watch the full committee hearing below. Wood’s testimony begins about 19 minutes into the video.
“If you see me in the airport or on the streets of DC, don’t be afraid to cheer me on, give me a thumbs up, a fist in the air, anything,” wrote Wood on Twitter earlier this week. “I feel strong but shaky and it helps to know people are rooting for the 25 million survivors in the U.S.”
For help and advice on mental health issues, check out the below organisations: