AnnaLynne McCord has had a life-altering year. The 90210 actress, 31, had a revelation on August 16, 2018, after undergoing eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy (EMDR), which uses interactive techniques to help relieve psychological stress. “I remembered,” she exclusively reveals in the new issue of Us Weekly, referencing repressed memories of sexual abuse that surfaced during treatment, “and my whole life changed.”
One month after her 31st birthday, McCord went to a therapy session with the goal of integrating her mind and body. (Her physician is an M.D. and licensed clinical psychologist, and a certified EMDR and trauma specialist.) “I told my doctor, ‘I’ve fixed myself from my neck to my head,’” she says proudly. “‘I changed my mindset. I’ve found forgiveness and love.’ But I still had cycles in my life where I’d pull in negative energy and bad sexual experiences.”
As clinical psychologist and author Dr. Robert Duff, who hasn’t treated McCord, explains to Us, “When people have something that triggers a traumatic memory, it’s usually some sort of sensory cue that pulls that memory back up. It’s very threatening, and that causes people to avoid remembering.” Patients turn to EMDR to recall disturbing memories in a safe environment. The theory is that stimulating both sides of the brain “helps reprocess these memories in a way that makes them less threatening and less immediate,” says Dr. Duff. “EMDR has been proven to be a very effective treatment for trauma.”
With the mission of ending years of disassociation, McCord conjured a fragmented memory and began the therapy, guided by her doctor. “It was this frozen image in my mind,” she explains. Shortly after, her head began to involuntarily snap to the left, she says — “I’m being slammed in the face with blackness” — and it continued to happen over and over. Finally, she deciphered the image. “My clothes are down, it’s not good,” she tells Us. She ultimately put the pieces together and realized she was seeing herself being sexually abused. “It went on for years,” she says, “up until I was 11. And then I have a memory, just a singled-out incident, that felt like I was a little bit older than 11.”
A longtime activist and ally, McCord became president of Together1Heart, an organization whose goal is to end human trafficking, a decade ago. But after her traumatic realization, she decided she didn’t want to just be behind the scenes — she needed Together1Heart for herself too.
The star has since received support and care through the foundation as well as from family and friends. “My sisters are heartbroken by what’s happened,” she tells Us. She’s also been writing personal essays as a form of therapy and is about to embark on a global meditation tour, The Love Storm (starting January 11 in L.A.), which is aimed at “raising the collective energy against slavery of the body and the mind.”
Says McCord, “If I’m hoping to heal from violent energy, I can’t do that by responding with more violent or angry energy. I am love, and I’m [a] storm. We’re here to break cycles and break chains.”
For more on McCord’s brave journey, pick up the new issue of Us Weekly, on newsstands now.
If you or anyone you know has been sexually assaulted, call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673). A trained staff member will provide confidential, judgment-free support as well as local resources to assist in healing, recovering and more.
With additional reporting by Marc Lupo
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