Evan Rachel Wood on suffering abuse: ‘It took me seven years to cry about it’

Evan Rachel Wood was a guest on Dax Shepard’s Armchair Expert Podcast. She talked about her career, she started on stage as a child when her father ran the local theater in Raleigh, North Carolina. She also open up about being a victim of domestic abuse and about what she’s learned has an advocate for other domestic abuse sufferers. Last week Evan revealed that she had been in an abusive relationship in her early twenties. On Armchair Expert she discussed how victims become entrenched in relationships and find it hard to escape, and how she could relate to that. They were talking about abuse in the context of the R Kelly documentary and how gradual and insidious it can be.

This is the first time I’ve listened to Dax’s podcast and I came away with an appreciation for what he’s trying to do. He wants to be open about important issues. In the past he’s revealed the sexual abuse he suffered as a child, and his mother opened up on his podcast about being a domestic abuse survivor. He talked about that in this episode as well.

What is the attraction to working with domestic abuse [groups]
I’m a survivor myself. It wasn’t until very recently that I came to terms with everything and was able to identify what had happened. When it happens it’s very complicated. You lie to yourself, you’re being lied to, gaslit. You lose a sense of self and a sense of reality.

People don’t realize there’s generally like 8 really strong steps in route to [physical abuse]
I related a lot to [the R. Kelly documentary]. There’s a lot of ways that you can be abused that aren’t physical. There’s a lot of ways that somebody can control you and prevent you from leaving the situation without ever having to restrain you.

What they don’t talk about is that the person that hit you is somebody that you love very much. You’ve seen this amazing side to them. You don’t want to believe that’s who they are.

Was it fulfilling any romantic fantasy of yours about being in a Sid and Nancy relationship?
100% .That was in the beginning. ‘It’s me and you against the world, man.’ You’re both outcasts and you feel like you’re a part of something really special. They make you feel like they need you. They share something very personal that makes them vulnerable. You go ‘I see where this comes from, it’s not your fault. I’m going to excuse this behavior.’

When I hear all [these stories] I don’t hear the personal voyage [of] owning your own mistake and forgiving yourself for that
I was acting out and I was really impulsive and defensive. On the surface it would have seemed like I was an a-hole, but I was really suffering.

Have you had therapy for it?
Absolutely, but it took me seven years to even be able to cry about it. I walked away going ‘If I’m in pain because of this then they win.’ I wanted to forget it had ever happened and press on. I was a shell of a person. I had to sacrifice so much of myself to keep somebody happy that by the end I didn’t know who I was anymore.

It’s threatening to your identity to have been in that situation
I think it is absolutely important to lift the shame about it. A lot of people walk away and you lie to yourself to make sense of what’s happened to you. ‘This is my fault,’ ‘I should’ve left.’ It’s obviously not that easy.

[From Armchair Expert Podcast around minutes 22-33]

Honestly I didn’t listen to the entire hour and a half interview and I’m sure there are more gems in there. (She did talk about tweeting to Ben Affleck when she misread his secondhand comments on kissing a guy for Chasing Amy.) I was impressed with how they explained abuse and the cycle of abuse, and how victims are blamed for not leaving immediately. You see that in the the response to the R. Kelly and Michael Jackson documentaries, and to stories about Amber Heard being abused by Johnny Depp. Evan is a great spokesperson for this cause because she’s lived it and she understands it.

After I wrote up the first story on Evan opening up about her abuse she posted a video about it. In her talk with Dax she said that just thinking about a character she’s played can bring her to tears because the emotions are close to the surface. I get teary when remembering tough times in life too and could relate.

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19 Responses to “Evan Rachel Wood on suffering abuse: ‘It took me seven years to cry about it’”

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  1. Olive says:

    guessing the abuser was Manson?

    • Anna says:

      Not sure. Does anyone know if allegations of abuse have been made about him from others?

      • Olive says:

        it’s just something about self-identifying as an outcast and using that to isolate and control someone read as very Manson to me, but I can’t find any exes with anything like that to say about him – Dita just said he was a boozer who cheated. he IS longtime BFFs with Johnny Depp though…

        I remember Evan and Manson’s relationship was pretty off and on.

      • Justjj says:

        Go watch the ‘Running To The Edge Of The World’ music video. I won’t post it here. Should have included it before but *Trigger warning* if you watch it. It contains graphic domestic abuse.

      • Olive says:

        @justjj I looked it up after seeing your comment below – yikes! i totally forgot about that video but you’re right.

      • Ms. says:

        Doesn’t matter if anybody else is corroborating it or not.

      • Kara says:

        It was definitely Manson. She posted pictures on Instagram of the times she was suffering from abuse and they’re all from when she was with Manson.

        They were on and off, and she dated some other men in between, but the pictures she posted are specifically when she was with him.

      • Melanie says:

        Esme Bianco. Another former girlfriend. She won’t name him either, but posted about it on Twitter (or maybe IG). She showed a picture of her back that had been whipped in the name of “art”. It was done to her on her birthday. Pictures she posted show the exact outfit she was wearing out that night with MM in tabloid pics. It made me sick to look at those wounds.

        I hope more women he has abused speak up.

  2. Anna says:

    She does such a clear and eloquent job describing her abuse. I suffered domestic abuse as a child and am nowhere near as well spoken about it as she is. Kudos to her for being willing to stand up and speak about it.

  3. Justjj says:

    Does anyone else think this is Marilyn Manson? The ‘Running To The Edge Of The World’ music video is an actress who looks identical to ERW being beaten (to death) in lingerie by him. I feel like he’s always been a bit of a misogynist and his BFF is Johnny Depp… hmmmm…. I don’t know but that music video is definitely a piece of misogynistic trash. I’m glad these conversations are happening and I’m grateful to her for opening up about this.

    And side note I’m so sick of guys getting passes for abuse and being disgusting because, art. Enough already.

    • Olive says:

      my guess too.

    • Olive says:

      she posted photos on her instagram from that time and she has dark hair and she’s wearing the dark gothic makeup she wore during her relationship with Manson in the photos. I think it’s him 100% after seeing the photos.

    • Steff says:

      Speaking of Depp… it’s amazing how hard and swiftly the public came down on Amber after he filed that lawsuit against her. Like the majority of people automatically assumed everything he said was 100% correct and Amber was lying about everything.

      • otaku fairy... says:

        People automatically assumed that they were looking at an amoral attractive younger woman who would do anything for money and attention- even ruining the legacy of the hapless older man she married with a false allegation of abuse.

  4. jules says:

    She really seems like an intelligent and thoughtful woman and is a great advocate for domestic abuse. As a survivor myself, I completely understand the reasons people stay in abusive relationships, as well as the judgement people get from others when we don’t leave. It’s a vicious trap.
    Keep speaking up and advocating for all women and men who are victims Evan Rachel Wood!

    • otaku fairy... says:

      She really does. It’s also positive that Dax Shepard is able to mention his abuse without people deciding for him that his choices around sex and how he presents himself are symptoms of his abuse and need to be cured. It would be great if that were extended to all public figures who have histories of abuse to share. #Equality

  5. Nicole says:

    I’ve come to really respect her as a human being. She was always an amazing performer. During her Marilyn Manson years, I really did not understand the appeal, and it was pretty clear that there was a power imbalance. (At least from what I can see). It always seems like she was trying to conform herself into something who she really wasn’t. I’m really glad that she has been able to find her footing and heal.

  6. pinetree13 says:

    I still carry shame with me. I feel embarrassed for the things I put up with and that I went back more than once. It’s weird how I can cheer for others and yet feel deeply embarrassed about my own situation. Mine wasn’t nearly as bad as others either in that I was never seriously injured.

    • Anna says:

      @pinetree13 Thank you for sharing this. I hear you and feel much the same. It’s very, very hard to move past the shame. Luckily, I have found a wonderful therapist (who has seen me for free for years due to my lack of funds) and it has helped so much to work slowly through this. She always affirms that what I experienced is valid and wrong, that I am not wrong for my feelings, that I was groomed and gaslit and that yes, it was abuse. I can’t explain the levels of what that means to have even one person in my life who knows all of the truth, believes and supports me and is in my corner. It’s the only thing that is helping me to heal. The injuries are to the spirit but they affect the body. As I age, I see the ways that the abuse behavior has affected me. I hope that you have at least one person in your corner and know that you are not alone and that if it happened, it was bad and it’s not about comparing. Your experience was as valid and hurtful as any other, and it was not your fault no matter what anyone–the abuser or people, family, “friends”–may have tried to tell you. Sending you so much love and hope for healing.