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Reese Witherspoon says she was sexually assaulted by a director when she was 16


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Reese Witherspoon has alleged she was assaulted by a director as a 16-year-old.

The Oscar-winning actress said she has been harassed and sexually assaulted throughout her career as she became the latest star to speak out in the wake of allegations against Harvey Weinstein.

Speaking as she introduced her Big Little Lies co-star Laura Dern at ELLE’s Women in Los Angeles event on Monday night, Witherspoon said: “This has been a really hard week for women in Hollywood, for women all over the world, for men in a lot of situations and a lot of industries that are forced to remember and relive a lot of ugly truths.”

24th Annual ELLE Women in Hollywood Awards
Reese Witherspoon with Ava Phillippe at the ELLE Women in Hollywood Awards (Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

She said she felt “true disgust” at the director who assaulted her when she was 16 as well as anger at the agents and producers “who made me feel that silence was a condition of my employment”.

“And I wish I could tell you that that was an isolated incident in my career, but sadly it wasn’t,” she added.

“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, the things that we’re kind of told to sweep under the rug and not talk about, it’s made me want to speak up and speak up loudly, because I felt less alone this week than I’ve ever felt in my entire career.”

Witherspoon's admission came on the same night that fellow Oscar-winner Jennifer Lawrence revealed that she had been left "degraded and humiliated" after being forced to appear in a nude line-up early in her career.

Witherspoon also called on people in Hollywood to ask questions such as “who are your top female executives?” when negotiating with companies.

“Asking questions like that, I found, it seems so obvious, but people don’t ask those questions.

“If we can raise consciousness and really help create change, that’s what’s going to change this industry and change society. So I’m so sad that I have to talk about these issues, but it would be, I would be, remiss not to.”

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