In an interview with Rolling Stone magazine earlier this month, Evan Rachel Wood quietly came forward about her past experiences with sexual assault and how her own traumas have helped to develop her character in HBO’s Westworld. However, on November 28th, Wood decided to fully come out about her past on her Twitter account by publicizing a letter that she has sent to journalist Alex Morris after the interview had initially taken place. In the letter, Wood blatantly addresses the struggles that she continues to face pertaining to her experiences with sexual assault and she uses her platform as a public figure to clarify once and for all that rape is #notOK.
While many know Evan Rachel Wood for her roles in 2003’s Thirteen, 2007’s Across the Universe, and as the long-time girlfriend of rocker Marilyn Manson — today Wood is best known as the protagonist of Westworld, a science fiction thriller which premiered on HBO in October 2016. In the show, which is based off the 1973 film of the same name, Wood plays an ingenue western woman who discovers that she is a robotic host living in an amusement park that has been artificially engineered to resemble the American frontier. During one of the episodes, Wood’s character is sexually assaulted, and during her interview with Rolling Stone, she notes that her past experiences helped her to make this scene more believable. Yet after Donald Trump won the 2016 presidential election, Wood decided that it was time to completely come forward, both in print and online.
Wood begins the letter by explaining why she has been vague about her experiences with sexual assault and why many women are afraid to come forward. She writes that she was afraid of how other people would react to her story, saying that she was afraid of being accused of “doing it for attention,” be told that that “it wasn’t a big deal,” or “that’s not really rape.” Wood then goes on to explain that although she and millions of other women feel this way about their experiences—and lets everyone know that she is sick of staying silent. It’s time that we start addressing sexual assault as a serious problem on individual, interactional, and institutional levels.
It’s extremely difficult for anyone to come out about being raped, but it’s important to recognize that public figures like Wood are doing so because they have the power to reach millions of people from around the world. They have the ability to inspire other young women to come forward with their own stories. We saw this happen back in October when Amber Tamblyn spoke out on Instagram about her sexual assault experience after the now infamous Trump “grab her by the pussy” video was released. Like Wood, Tamblyn took to social media to react to the controversy, and both she and her followers made it pretty clear that grabbing a woman by her genitals is not something to be normalized.
Sexual assault is a subject that unfortunately affects millions of women around the world and according to RAINN, an American is sexually assaulted every two minutes. Yet, despite the fact that one in six women will become victims of sexual assault during their lifetime, many of these women are afraid to let their stories be heard. Women like Evan Rachel Wood and Amber Tamblyn are telling the world that they’ve had enough and it’s about damn time that this issue is addressed both within the media, in government, and in our everyday lives. This is an issue that will not be resolved unless real changes are met. Women from around the world deserve to know that they deserve to be treated as human beings.
Photos via @evanrachelwood and @amberrosetamblyn
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