Reese Witherspoon is latest actress to come out with sexual misconduct allegations against a male member of the Hollywood elite. Though she did not provide a name, Witherspoon revealed during her speech at Elle’s Women in Hollywood event that she had been sexually assaulted by a director when she was just 16 years old.
The Academy Award winner said that all the discussion that has arisen since the litany of sexual abuse and assault allegations against Harvey Weinstein caused her own experiences to “come back to me very vividly.” Through restless nights and high anxiety, she felt “guilt for not speaking up earlier,” but took her chance at the podium Monday evening.
“[I feel] 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,” said Witherspoon (via The Hollywood Reporter). “And I wish I could tell you that was an isolated incident in my career, but sadly it wasn’t. I’ve had multiple experiences of harassment and sexual assault and I don’t speak about them very often.”
Again, Witherspoon refrained from calling out her assailant by name. Even withholding that information, however, she expressed a sense of union with the “brave women” who have spoken up over the last few weeks. “… It’s made me want to speak up and speak up loudly because I felt less alone this week than I have felt in my entire career,” she said. “I have just spoken to so many actresses and writers, particularly women, who have had similar experiences and many of them have bravely gone public with their stories. That truth is very encouraging to me and to everyone out there in the world because you can only heal by telling the truth.”