Actress Evan Rachel Wood detailed her own story of sexual assault, rape and domestic violence to a congressional committee on Tuesday to help other abuse survivors.
Wood appeared before the House Judiciary Committee as part of an effort to encourage states to implement the federal Sexual Assault Survivors’ Bill of Rights Act in all 50 states. Currently, the bill provides survivors with basic rights in federal cases, but has only been adopted by nine of the 50 states.
“I’m here today to use my position as an artist, survivor, mother and advocate to bring a human voice to the population of 25 million survivors in the U.S. who are currently experiencing inequality under the law and who desperately need basic civil rights,” Wood said.
The actress testified along with the CEO and founder of anti-sexual violence organization RISE, Amanda Nguyen, RISE chief of staff Lauren Libby and the vice president of the Rape Abuse Incest National Network (RAINN), Rebecca O’Connor.
“I struggle to speak to you today because I’m not sure what words are appropriate when discussing this issue,” Wood told the committee. “However, if you can’t hear the whole truth you will never know true empathy, and I believe in the saying ‘If we have to live through it then you should have to hear it.’”
Wood described how she was in a violently abusive relationship with a former partner who physically, verbally and sexually abused her repeatedly. She discussed how her former partner raped her while he believed she was unconscious. Sometime after, Wood said, she was raped by a different man in a storage closet at a bar.
Wood termed the federal law a “recognition of basic civil rights for sexual-assault survivors and serves as a first step.”