Reese Witherspoon: I Was Assaulted by Director at 16

America Ferrera says she was sexually assaulted, and Jennifer Lawrence shares her own tale
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 17, 2017 7:45 AM CDT
Reese Witherspoon: I Was Assaulted by Director at 16
Reese Witherspoon, left, and Ava Phillippe arrive at the 24th annual ELLE Women in Hollywood Awards on Monday.   (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

Reese Witherspoon was 16 when she was first sexually assaulted by a director, then further victimized by agents and producers "who made me feel that silence was a condition of my employment. And I wish that I could tell you that was an isolated incident in my career, but sadly it wasn't," Witherspoon said during a speech at Elle's Women in Hollywood event Monday in Beverly Hills, per People. The 41-year-old said it was "hard to sleep, hard to think" over the past week as "multiple experiences of harassment and sexual assault … have come back to me very vividly." But though she said she feels guilty for not speaking about those experiences sooner, she added, "I actually felt less alone this week than I have ever felt in my entire career."

Jennifer Lawrence described her own "degrading and humiliating" experience with film producers at the same event, noting she was once forced to stand naked with other women—"with only paste-ons covering our privates"—before producers told her to lose 15 pounds in two weeks, reports USA Today. "We will stop normalizing these horrific situations," said Lawrence. Dozens of other women in Hollywood have spoken out about their experiences with sexual assault or harassment using #MeToo. In one such post Monday on Instagram, America Ferrera revealed she was first assaulted by "a grown man" at 9 years old, People reports. "Ladies, let's break the silence so the next generation of girls won’t have to live with this bullshit," she wrote. (More sexual assault stories.)

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