Celeb: Evan Rachel Wood, the 30-year-old star of the sci-fi HBO series “Westworld” and two-time sexual assault survivor turned advocate. Wood rose to prominence with her Golden Globe-nominated role in the 2003 flick “Thirteen.”
Cause: Passage of a bill of rights for sexual assault survivors in all 50 states. The Survivors’ Bill of Rights Act of 2016, which applies only to federal cases, was passed unanimously by Congress and signed by President Obama. The act was intended as a model for states to follow so they could enact their own measures affording rights to sexual assault survivors. The Survivors’ Bill, which was conceived by Amanda Nguyen, founder of the nonprofit Rise, has been passed by nine states so far. In those states, survivors are entitled to rights such as a free forensic medical examination and a sexual assault evidence collection kit (a.k.a. a rape kit) that is preserved on their behalf, without the risk of it being destroyed.
Scene: Seated at a table with three other women from Rise and another anti-sexual violence organization, Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), Wood addressed members of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security and Investigations in the Rayburn House Office Building. Dressed in a gray crew neck sweater over a white collared shirt and her hair worn down in a simple cropped do, Wood looked more like a regular mom at a PTA meeting than a Hollywood celeb. The actress is in fact a single mom to a young son. She said she was there to advocate for him in addition to herself and other survivors, so that he can grow up in a world free of the negative stereotypes of how men should act toward women.
Sound bite: “Even though these experiences happened a decade ago I still struggle with the aftermath… the feeling of paralysis returns when I’m home alone and hear a loud noise and I’m convinced someone is coming to hurt me. I stay awake all night clutching a baseball bat, which began to replace my distraught and absent partners, as trust and touch became increasingly more difficult.”