The XX Factor

Westworld Star Evan Rachel Wood Describes Being Raped Twice in Emotional Note

Evan Rachel Wood at the Westworld premiere on September 28, 2016 in Hollywood, California.

Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

On Monday afternoon, Westworld star Evan Rachel Wood posted a note on Twitter explaining that she’s been raped twice in her life and still grapples with the consequences. “The trauma of a few minutes can turn into a lifetime of fighting for yourself,” she wrote. “It’s not that you can’t get over it, it’s just that you are never the same, or maybe I just haven’t gotten there yet.”

Wood tweeted that she’d sent the deeply personal note to Alex Morris, the Rolling Stone writer who published a profile of Wood earlier this month. In the piece, Morris wrote that, during their conversation, Wood was “circumspect” about “physical, psychological, sexual” abuse she’s endured in her 29 years. The day after Donald Trump was elected president, Morris wrote, Wood sent the email she later posted to Twitter to fill in some details. “I don’t believe we live in a time where people can stay silent any longer,” Wood wrote. “Not given the state our world is in with its blatant bigotry and sexism.”

Wood’s email referenced Morris’ “blunt question”—presumably a question about the extent of the abuse she suffered. “To answer your blunt question bluntly, yes. I have been raped,” Wood wrote. “By a significant other while we were together, and on a separate occasion, by the owner of a bar. The first time I was unsure that if it was done by a partner it was still in fact rape, until too late. Also who would believe me. And the second time, I thought it was my fault and that I should have fought back more, but I was scared. This was many many years ago and I of course know now neither one was my fault and neither one was OK. This was all before I tried to commit suicide and I am sure was one of the many factors.”

In her interview with Morris and in previous discussions of her sexuality, Wood has drawn connections between bisexual identity and physical or sexual victimization. She’s noted that bisexual women bear a higher risk of depression and anxiety, suicidal ideation and action, and intimate partner abuse. Wood attempted suicide at age 22, and she believes biphobia was a contributing factor to both her abuse and the emotional trauma it wrought. “[Bisexuality] was always talked about like a phase or something stupid, or something you were doing for attention,” Wood told Morris. “You know, bisexuality is worthy of eye rolls. And I didn’t realize how damaging that was until I tried to have healthy relationships as an adult and realized that there was still all this shame and conditioning and stigma around my sexuality that was really affecting the way I related to people. I think I was taken advantage of because someone knew there was something about me that they could exploit.”

Though she wanted to be honest about the abuse she survived, Wood initially chose to be vague to hedge against the backlash that almost always rises to meet women in the public eye who tell their stories of rape. “I think, like a lot of women, I had the urge to not make it a sob story, to not make it about me,” she wrote in her note. “I think deep down, I also didn’t want to be accused of doing it for attention, or told it wasn’t a big deal, or ‘That’s not really rape.’”

Now that Wood’s gone public with a few details of her history of abuse, she’s “taking a break” from social media. She told Morris that her work on HBO’s Westworld, in which she plays an android whose major purpose is giving paying customers a lifelike woman to rape, has helped her “make peace” with her past. “Your demons never fully leave,” Wood said. “But when you’re using them to create something else, it almost gives them a purpose and feels like none of it was in vain.”