In a lengthy and deeply personal note, actress Evan Rachel Wood revealed this week that she has been raped twice in her life and said both assaults continue to affect her years later.
“I am still standing. I am alive. I am happy. I am strong, but I am still not okay,” Wood wrote in a letter that she shared Monday on Twitter. “I think it’s important for people to know that, for survivors to own that, and that the pressure to just get over it already, should be lifted. It will remind people of the damage that has been done and how the trauma of a few minutes can turn into a lifetime of fighting for yourself.”
The 29-year-old actress, who plays Dolores Abernathy in HBO’s “Westworld,” shared the letter on Twitter Monday after Rolling Stone published a Nov. 17 profile in which the actress said she attempted suicide at age 22 and had been abused.
According to the interviewer, Wood at first simply described the abuse as “physical, psychological, sexual,” but emailed the author the day after the presidential election to elaborate.
“I don’t believe we live in a time where people can stay silent any longer. I certainly can’t,” she wrote. “Not given the state our world is in with its blatant bigotry and sexism. It should be talked about because it’s swept under the rug as nothing and I will not accept this as ‘normal.’ It’s a serious problem.”
Later in the letter, she said she would answer the reporter’s question “bluntly.”
“Yes. I have been raped,” Wood wrote. “By a significant other while we were together, and on a separate occasion, by the owner of a bar.”
The first time, she added, she was not sure if rape by a dating partner “was still in fact rape, until too late” and wondered whether anyone would believe her.
“And the second time, I thought it was my fault and that I should have fought back more, but I was scared,” Wood wrote. “This was many many years ago, and I of course know now neither one was my fault and neither one was okay.”
Only a small portion of her letter made it into the Rolling Stone article. On Monday, Wood shared the full letter with her nearly 300,000 Twitter followers.
“Well, since everything is out in the open now, figured I would share the confession letter I wrote to @RollingStone in its entirety. #NotOk,” she tweeted.
In the letter, she said both instances happened “many many years ago” and may have factored into her decision to attempt suicide at 22.
Wood wrote she had been reluctant to share her experiences because she feared she would be accused of doing it for attention or be told it wasn’t a big deal.
“I think, like a lot of women, I had the urge to not make it a sob story, to not make it about me,” she wrote. “I didn’t have to confirm what happened, what mattered is that [s—] happened. Bad. [S—.] That still affects me to this day.”
It is unclear whether the timing of Wood’s letter to Rolling Stone and the #NotOK hashtag on Monday’s tweet were intended to refer to the sexual-assault controversies surrounding President-elect Donald Trump. A call and email to Wood’s publicist Wednesday were not immediately returned.
In early October, leaked video from 2005 showed Trump talking to “Access Hollywood” host Billy Bush about having his way with women. Included among Trump’s vulgar comments were that he could kiss and touch women freely because he was “a star.”
“Grab them by the p—y,” Trump says in the recording. “You can do anything.”
Trump initially defended his comments as “locker-room banter” before issuing a more direct apology. The video unleashed a deluge of criticism from all sides. In the weeks that followed, multiple women stepped forward to publicly accuse Trump of touching them inappropriately. Trump has denied the allegations and threatened to sue all of the women who made them.
The video also activated a large and vocal group of critics online: victims of sexual assault.
Within a day of the video’s release, thousands of people began sharing their personal stories of being sexually assaulted, many using the hashtag #NotOkay. More than a month later, #NotOkay continues to be used on social media by victims of sexual violence.
After she posted her letter, Wood announced she would be taking a break from social media, but reappeared on Twitter to exchange tweets with Hollywood gossip columnist Perez Hilton.
Wood had apparently referred to Hilton in the Rolling Stone article, when she told the reporter: “People would call me a whore when I walked down the street, and you can’t not be hurt by that.”
On Tuesday, Hilton apologized to Wood in a tweet, writing: “I’m definitely thankful for growth and definitely sorry for all the hurt my past immaturity caused others.”
“I really do respect the new path you’ve chosen. That takes a lot of bravery as well. Thanks 4 this. We good. Nothing but <3 @ThePerezHilton,” Wood replied.
In a series of additional tweets, she encouraged people not to judge others and that it was never too late to not be a bully.
“Forgiveness is possible and essential for moving on,” Wood said.
Though reports of sexual violence in the United States have fallen by more than half since 1993, an American is sexually assaulted every two minutes, according to statistics from the Rape Abuse Incest National Network, a nonprofit that advocates for survivors of sex crimes.
About one of every six women in the United States (and about one in 33 men) has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime, the group said.
“Recovering from sexual assault or abuse is a process, and that process looks different for everyone,” RAINN says. “It may take weeks, months, or years: There’s no timetable for healing.”
According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, more than a third of women and more than a quarter of men in the United States have experienced rape, physical violence and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime.
“Your relationship status does not make consent automatic,” a statement on the group’s website reads. “Whether it’s the first time or the hundredth time, a hookup, a committed relationship or a marriage, nobody is ever obligated to give consent, even if they have done so in the past. You are the only one who ever has ownership of your body.”