On Tuesday, Westworld star Evan Rachel Wood appeared in front of a House Judiciary Subcommittee to testify about her experience with domestic and sexual abuse, and to push for the Sexual Assault Survivors’ Bill of Rights Acts in all 50 states.
In a five-minute statement, Wood described in graphic detail the harrowing abuse and assault she suffered, as well as the years of PTSD, addiction, depression, and agoraphobia that ensued. Describing the domestic violence she lived through, Wood said:
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 went on:
While I was tied up and being beaten and told unspeakable things, I truly felt like I could die. 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.
Wood also explained how these prior experiences affected a later assault, saying, “Being abused and raped previously made it easier for me to be raped again — not the other way around.”
“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,” Wood said. “But others are not so fortunate, and because of this rape is often more than a few minutes of trauma, but slow death.”
After Wood spoke, Amanda Nguyen, the CEO and founder of RISE, and Rebecca O’Connor, the vice-president of the Rape Abuse Incest National Network (RAINN), testified as well. Currently, the Sexual Assault Survivors’ Bill of Rights Act specifies rights for survivors — like having forensic evidence preserved, and ensuring they don’t have to pay for rape kits — at a federal but not state level. Advocates like Wood, Nguyen, and O’Connor are pushing to establish similar Bill of Rights in all 50 states.
“[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 hearing below: