Evan Rachel Wood testified before Congress on Tuesday about her experience with sexual assault. She was one of three women who spoke to the House Judiciary Committee, in hopes of expanding the policies set forth by the Sexual Assault Survivors’ Bill of Rights Act of 2016 to all 50 states.
“I thought I was the only human who experienced this, and I carried so much guilt and confusion about my response to the abuse,” Wood told Congress. “I accepted my powerlessness, and I felt I deserved it somehow.” The actress also said that her abuse triggered her PTSD.
The actress was joined by representatives of prominent sexual assault survivors’ rights advocacy groups, Amanda Nguyen and Lauren Libby of Rise, and the Vice President of RAINN. Wood spoke very candidly and in horrific detail about many incidents where she was abused and raped.
In her testimony, she described how her abuse “escalated over time, including threats against my life, severe gaslighting and brainwashing, [and] waking up to the man that claimed to love me raping what he believed to be my unconscious body.”
Wood says she would dissociate from her body during much of the abuse, which took a severe toll on her mental well-being. “Seven years after my rapes—plural—I was diagnosed with long term PTSD. Which I had been living with all that time without knowledge about my condition,” said Wood. “I simply thought I was going crazy. 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.”
As Wood elaborated in an email to the news organization, “I want Congress to understand that sexual assault and rape have lasting effects on your health and well being.” She continued to explain, “It's the trauma that continues after the act itself that is overwhelming. Survivors shouldn't also be forced to jump through hurdles to hold their perpetrators accountable."