Actress Reese Witherspoon has joined the chorus of voices decrying the prevalence of sexual assault in Hollywood, discussing her own experiences at Elle's Women in Hollywood event on Monday night, according to Teen Vogue.
"I have my own experiences that have come back to me very vividly, and I found it really hard to sleep, hard to think, hard to communicate. A lot of the feelings I've been having about anxiety, about being honest, the guilt for not speaking up earlier or taking action. True disgust at the director who assaulted me when I was 16 years old and anger that I felt at the agents and the producers who made me feel that silence was a condition of my employment."
Witherspoon said she is encouraged by the number of women and men who have courageously spoken out about their experiences, saying,
"I've just spoken to so many actresses and writers, and particularly women, who've had similar experiences, and many of them have bravely gone public with their stories. And that truth is very encouraging to me and to everyone out there in the world, because you can only heal by telling the truth. Very smart, wise women have told me that in the past three days, and I feel very encouraged by this group of people tonight who have created a community of people who are champions now of a new attitude toward harassment in our industry, and every industry that's going to address the abuse of power in this business and every business, and I feel really, really encouraged that there will be a new normal."
The actress also addressed the heavy-hitters in the room, exhorting those who deal at Hollywood's elite negotiating tables to take a new "course of action":
I think maybe during your next negotiation, this is a really prudent time to ask important questions like, who are your top female executives? Do those women have green-light power? How many women are on the board of your company? How many women are in a key position of decision-making at your company? Asking questions like that, I found, it seems so obvious, but people don't ask those questions," Witherspoon said. "If we can raise consciousness and really help create change, that's what's going to change this industry and change society."