Ashley Judd has had enough. The Insurgent actress opened up about her own experience with rape in a powerful essay published on Mic.com on Thursday, Mar. 19, amid her current fight against Internet trolls.
Judd, 46, decided to speak out about gender violence after receiving vulgar comments in response to a March Madness tweet she wrote earlier this week. On Mar. 17, she told NBC News that she would be pressing charges.
"What happened to me is the devastating social norm experienced by millions of girls and women on the Internet. Online harassers use the slightest excuse (or no excuse at all) to dismember our personhood," she wrote. "My tweet was simply the convenient delivery system for a rage toward women that lurks perpetually. I know this experience is universal, though I'll describe specifically what happened to me."
In the essay, titled "Forget Your Team: Your Online Violence Toward Girls and Women Is What Can Kiss My Ass," the University of Kentucky fan explained that her tweet about the Arkansas Razorbacks "playing dirty" turned into tweeters calling her a "c—t, a whore or a bitch, or telling me to suck a two-inch d—k." Others went as far as threatening rape.
"I read in vivid language the various ways, humiliating and violent, in which my genitals, vaginal and anal, should be violated, shamed, exploited and dominated," she wrote. "Either the writer was going to do these things to me, or they were what I deserved. My intellect was insulted: I was called stupid, an idiot. My age, appearance and body were attacked. Even my family was thrown into the mix: Someone wrote that my 'grandmother is creepy.'"
Judd then recalled her own past, and explained why she won't stand by the abuse any longer — and neither should anyone else. (She previously revealed that she was a three-time rape survivor during a speech at George Washington University in March 2013. She also discussed the painful past in her 2011 memoir All That Is Bitter and Sweet.)
"I am a survivor of sexual assault, rape and incest. I am greatly blessed that in 2006, other thriving survivors introduced me to recovery. I seized it. My own willingness, partnered with a simple kit of tools, has empowered me to take the essential odyssey from undefended and vulnerable victim to empowered survivor," Judd wrote. "Today, nine years into my recovery, I can go farther and say my 'story' is not 'my story.' It is something a Higher Power (spirituality, for me, has been vital in this healing) uses to allow me the grace and privilege of helping others who are still hurting, and perhaps to offer a piece of education, awareness and action to our world."
The Double Jeopardy star went into detail about the assaults, which took place in the summer of 1984. "I experienced two rapes by an adult and systematic molestation from another adult, who also had another man in the room watching (I now understand this was to ensure he had a witness, in order to undermine me in the event I tried to report the incident)."
She added: "I have done purgative, cathartic work on those particular acts of violence. The nature of recovering from trauma is that it can be ongoing, with deeper levels of healing and freedom coming with indefatigable persistence to keep chipping away at it."
Judd notes that working with a therapist after her sexual assaults gave her the chance "to finally speak." She hopes that others will also help to silence Internet trolls with her.
"But let me tell you: I am exactly like every other survivor, and the sexual assault centers of our country are for me, just as they are for all of us," she wrote. "So for now, I am handing it back over to those of you who are unafraid to speak out against abuse like I have faced, and those of you who are righteous allies and intervening bystanders. You're on it. Keep at it — on the Internet, at home, at work and in your hearts, where the courage to tackle this may fundamentally lie. We have much to discuss, and much action to take. Join me."
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