Reese Witherspoon is the latest star to reveal that she was sexually harassed. During her speech at the Elle Women in Hollywood event on Monday evening (Oct. 16), the actress recalled the heartbreaking story.
“This has been a really hard week for women in Hollywood, for women all over the world, and a lot of situations and a lot of industries are forced to remember and relive a lot of ugly truths," Witherspoon said (via PEOPLE). "I have my own experiences that have come back to me very vividly and I find it really hard to sleep, hard to think, hard to communicate a lot of the feelings that I’ve been having about anxiety, honest, the guilt for not speaking up earlier.”
The Oscar winner continued,
“[I feel] true disgust at the director who assaulted me when I was 16 years old and anger at the agents and the 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. I’ve had multiple experiences of harassment and sexual assault and I don’t speak about them very often. But after hearing all the stories these past few days and hearing these brave women speak up tonight about things that we’re kind of told to sweep under the rug and not to talk about, it’s made me want to speak up and speak up loudly because I actually felt less alone this week than I have ever felt in my entire career.”
The stories Witherspoon was referring to were the ongoing reports from various women stating they have been sexually assaulted, harassed or abused by Harvey Weinstein over the years. Gwyneth Paltrow, Angelina Jolie, Rose McGowan, Cara Delevingne and more have spoken out against the movie producer. Along with Witherspoon, Jennifer Lawrence (who was also at the Elle Women in Hollywood event) recalled a terrifying experience she had during the beginning of her career.
“A female producer had me do a nude line-up with about five women who were much, much thinner than me,” she said in her speech. “We are stood side-by-side with only tape covering our privates. After that degrading and humiliating line-up, the female producer told me I should use the naked photos of myself as inspiration for my diet.” After she told another producer it was inappropriate, he said she was “perfectly f-ckable” and “didn’t know why everyone thought she was so fat.”
Details of Weinstein's assault cases, which spanned over decades, were shared in a harrowing New York Times report. On Oct. 8, he was officially fired by the Weinstein Company board of directors, who are currently undergoing a name change.