– EN Showbiz – Actress Evan Rachel Wood was determined to “rise up” from her experience as a survivor of domestic violence to reframe the story of her troubled past.
The Westworld star has been an outspoken supporter for abuse victims in recent years after revealing she had been raped twice by a significant other during her teens, and sexually assaulted by a bar owner on a separate occasion.
Evan has since used her platform to lobby lawmakers for better legal protections for victims, including spearheading the Phoenix Act in California, which calls for exceptions to the statute of limitations for survivors of domestic violence.
Under the state’s current legislation, people have just three years after the alleged incidents to report their attackers to police for potential prosecution, but if the Phoenix Act is passed, it would extend the deadline to 10 years.
The 31 year old, who helped to write the bill, testified before the California Senate in April (19) in support of the proposed law, recalling how it had taken her years to simply come to terms with her trauma, before even considering seeking justice.
“Many, many survivors will tell you that sometimes it can take a lifetime (to face up to the abuse),” she told U.S. breakfast show Today.
“In my case, it took me seven years to even cry about my experiences, because I did what a lot of people tell you to do: ‘Just move on, just get over it, just be strong.’ What I didn’t realise is I had been deeply hurt and I was in denial of that hurt.”
Even though Evan wasn’t able to bring charges against her abuser – who she has never identified – she hopes that by sharing her story, others in similar situations will recognise their need to get help sooner rather than later.
The actress is “proud” to be a leading voice in the fight for justice, but she despises the series of events which led her to become an advocate for such issues.
“I’m saddened by the circumstances that brought me here. I wish that wasn’t my story,” Evan said.
“I don’t like that that’s my story, but if my truth can move progress forward, I feel like now is the time to share that truth, even if it’s ugly.”
“That’s exactly why I named it the Phoenix Act,” she added of the proposed bill. “You might be in the ashes, but you can rise up, and that moment for me happened when it became not about me anymore.”