Evan Rachel Wood: ‘I didn’t know that you could be raped by your partner’

Evan Rachel Wood has only recently been open about being a victim of domestic abuse from a intimate partner. She just started talking about it this spring. While it’s clear who her abuser was as she’s mentioned the timeline and we know who she was dating then, she says she can’t name him. She’s since become an activist for domestic abuse survivors. Evan has an interview with Self that’s from a few weeks ago but I’m only seeing it now. She’s so upfront about what she went through and how she internalized that abuse. You can see that interview here and I’ve included some quotes below.

I didn’t realize that I was being abused. I thought that I was being strong with a complicated person. I want to name them, but I can’t. I think domestic violence is so normalized that I couldn’t see a crime being committed. I was so young. I didn’t know that you could be raped by your partner. Even if I did know that I don’t think I would have thought that anybody would ever believe me, because how do you prove that?

Part of the conditioning when you’re in that relationship is believing that it’s your fault and that you’ve done something to deserve this. What people don’t tell you is there’s a period when everything is fine and this person is treating you like a princess and they’re luring you into this illusion of safety and stability. Then something happens and it’s shocking and you feel like ‘what happened, this person that I love that is so nice just did this and it was so out of character it must have been me.’

[From Self interview on YouTube]

The rest of the video interview with Self is quite good. She talks about her bisexuality and how coming to terms with that helped her body image. Up until recently she’d been trying to live her life to please everyone else, especially her partners, as she thought that’s what you were supposed to do. I think a lot of women can relate to that.

Evan has a new interview on The Tonight Show where she said that she wrote and helped pass a law in California called the Phoenix Act which extends the statute of limitations on domestic violence felonies from three to five years. This law passed last month but I’m only hearing about it now. She really got to work on this issue and that’s impressive.

Evan is in Frozen 2, the movie that needs zero promotion. She told Fallon it was her dream to do a Disney film and that she sang her songs from Frozen 2 to her son Jack, 6, every night. Her son was so familiar with the music that when he saw the movie he thought they had animated his bedtime routine. That’s adorable! I really like Evan, I appreciate how upfront she is and am so happy to see her kicking ass.

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Photos credit: Getty and WENN

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68 Responses to “Evan Rachel Wood: ‘I didn’t know that you could be raped by your partner’”

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  1. Cidy says:

    Honestly, that resonated so much with me. A huge part of abuse and the power of abusers is that you dont know you’re being abused until … it’s like until someone tells you? Because those golden periods are so good, until they’re down again and you become their punching bag again. It’s a gaslighting nightmare, honestly.

    • Capepopsie says:

      Cosign! ✔️

    • Christina says:

      Yes. Yes. 😢

    • Christina says:

      Yes. Yes. 😢

      She’s so wonderful. I couldn’t talk about what my ex did until the DVROs. She didn’t try to prove the abuse in court, so Marilyn Manson would sue her for everything she’s earned if she named him. I’m glad that she discusses it, anyway, and we all know who he is. It’s very hard to prove. The courts are slanted to protect abusers. It’s all, “it may sound illegal, but you can’t prove it, so go away.”

      I don’t know why my comment posted twice. Sorry.

      • Amy Too says:

        Christina, I always appreciate your comments on this topic. Thank you for sharing your story and for always commenting on these stories with patience, sympathy, empathy, and kindness.

    • Samsara says:

      I don’t think you always listen when people tell you either though. You have to see it for what it is yourself.

      I was in a relationship with a guy I had kids with. He’d rape me but I didn’t really know that’s what it was until my therapist told me. He’d call me a-sexual and say he would leave and take the kids if his ‘needs’ weren’t met. The kids were my world. I would lay there feeling so disgusting but he’d then get angry that I wasn’t making any effort. I didn’t wake up to what was happening until he got violent with my son and I made a plan to leave. It was like someone suddenly turned on the lights.

      People always asked why I put up with it but I thought it was normal and I was a bad girlfriend for not being more sexual. It still bothers me that people say ‘well I would never let this happen to me’ because I believe it can happen to anyone. Nobody chooses that. You’re manipulated until you can’t see clearly anymore.

      • Christina says:

        I’m so sorry, Samsara, I’m so sorry that happened to you.

        A statistic that I heard on public radio about 5 years ago from a woman who wrote a book about women is that, at least in the United States, 95% of women before WWII were slapped across the face at least once in their marriage. This was normal, keep her in line stuff, and it was accepted. It changed during WWII because women in the u.S. started to work outside the home because there weren’t enough men to keep the country going, so that’s how you got Rosie the Rivitor. When the men returned from war, the women had money to leave if abuse started. That had not happened before. I wish I’d of written the name of the author down, so I don’t know who she is, but the discussion made me sit and listen to her interview in the super market parking lot. The statistic stunned me.

        Bless you for getting out. XO

      • lucy2 says:

        I’m so sorry that happened to you, and so happy you are safe now.

    • Jensies says:

      I think this is right on. I’m a therapist and I can count on it that every time I advise a client that their partner is showing signs of being abusive, I will lose them as a client. However gently and delicately I do it, however much psychoeducation I give them, resources I provide, it doesn’t matter. They will terminate because abusers are awesome at triangulating and the client feels that they have to make a choice between their partner and their relationship, or their mental health, and so their relationship with me is a lot easier to quit, and they do. It helps them feel like they’re choosing their relationship, that they’re proving their love to their partner. And then I see them a year later, exhausted and manipulated, acknowledging that it’s true, and their partner is an abuser. It takes a really long time to accept, and it often feels like a failure. I’m glad Evan is talking about this.

  2. ccsays says:

    100% unsurprised that That Guy is scum. Good for her for speaking out and articulating so well the reasons that so many survivors of domestic and sexual violence internalize blame.

    • toro says:

      who is the guy?

    • Spikey says:

      That Guy and his best friend, That Other Guy who beats his wife… may their d*cks rot and fall off.

      • JAM says:

        Spikey, who’s “that other guy who beats his wife”? I’m so not in the know!

      • JAM says:

        Oh wait, never mind. Think it was answered down thread. Can’t believe I didn’t think of it myself, so OBVIOUS.

      • DSW says:

        That guy’s former band mate also is also an abuser. He abused his former girlfriend, who fronted a well-known South Florida riot grrl band.

    • Valiantly Varnished says:

      And THAT GUY is besties with the other THAT GUY who beat his now ex-wife and is now suing her for defamation for talking about abuse in a PSA and an interview.

    • whatWHAT? says:

      I have NEVER liked MM. he always came off as SO try-hard to me, and he kept with the same shtick for SO LONG. “I’m so edgy! Look at my edgy make up! listen to my edgy music! I’M EDGY I’M TELLIN’ YA, EDGYYYYYYYY!”

      And I remember thinking “WHY is she with HIM?” when they were together. but she was young and likely thinking how rebellious she was…I’m glad she came out stronger. she’s really grown on me.

      PS that dress she’s wearing for the Frozen II premiere is just PERFECT for the occasion and she looks SO lovely.

      • Lady says:

        They opened for nine inch nails in the 90s. I went to that concert and no one in Oklahoma had heard of them. The try hardness is so much worse in person. We were on the front row so I saw all of it up close. It was bad. Then they blew up and I just didn’t get it. It was a comically bad show.

  3. Laalaa says:

    I saw this a week ago, and I was hoping you would cover it. It took me years to realize I was treated like shit in my early 20s. And yes, I also didn’t know I could be raped by my partner.

  4. CharlotteLouise says:

    + 1,000

  5. Lucy says:

    I remember when I first saw her. It was when she started dating MM. She looked (to me) like a fembot modelled after a porcelain doll. Always quiet and beautiful standing next to him. Something was off about her. Now that I know what she’s been through, I completely understand why. And I hate what happened to her. I love seeing her now, all outspoken and lively and, well, happy.

    • lucy2 says:

      I remember her as a teenager on a show with Sela Ward. She seemed talented and happy, and I was really sad when she ended up with MM. I’m so happy she got away from him and is doing so well, and helping others.

      • The Other Katherine says:

        She was SO AMAZING in Once and Again. One of the best child actresses I’ve ever seen. I was horrified by her relationship with MM and how it seemed to affect her. So glad she is confident in herself now and kicking ass.

      • lucy2 says:

        That was it, I never remember the name of it!
        I remember she sang in one episode, and thinking “I bet she’s a big star someday”.

      • The Other Katherine says:

        Remember the episode where she and Mischa Barton had a thing? They were both so beautiful and heartbreakingly young. I never did see ERW in Thirteen, and I feel like I need to make a point to catch it on Netflix or something.

      • GreenTurtle says:

        @TheOther definitely see Thirteen! It’s a really well done movie, and Nikki Reed was so good in it, too.

    • M.A.F. says:

      “She looked (to me) like a fembot modelled after a porcelain doll”

      She was probably styled that way by MM because he had just come out of his divorce from Dita Von Teese. At the time I remember thinking that Evan was purposely coping Von Teesse but now knowing about the abuse, 100% positive it was MM forcing the look on her.

  6. Michael says:

    I had no idea she was a mother. As for the guy she is speaking of I can only assume it was Marilyn Manson because I do not know if any other relationship she was in.

  7. Eleonor says:

    She has given a lot of powerful speech about domestic violence and I have the utter respect for her. Her words resonated me a lot.

  8. Cidy says:

    Also do we know why she can’t name him? Because I want to … MARILYN MANSON

    • Lucy says:

      She must have gotten some sort of restriction from him/his lawyers.

    • Christina says:

      Cidy, he will sue her. She hasn’t gone to court to prove that he abused her. Because of that, it’s libel/slander, and he’d sue about her talking or writing about it.

      My lawyers warned me not to discuss my abuse when I was at my worst, but his dad was a judge in the court system where I live. It’s probably not as much of a problem if the abuser is not a local celebrity, but any abuser can sue for defamation if his abused partner spreads the word without first proving that abuse occurred. I couldn’t be open until there were police reports and doctors notes and a judgement. THAT is why gossip among women saves lives. That is why people knew about Weinstein if they were lucky enough to run into someone willing to discuss what they knew. It’s all we’ve got.

      People say “until you prove it in a court of law, he is innocent”, but the system is so difficult and expensive to use. The court system is economically abusive. If you don’t have the money, the experts that can prove it won’t work your case. And , if the abuser doesn’t like what you are saying about him, they can sue to further economically abuse you. That’s what my ex did. He didn’t sue for defamation, but he tried to create a case through other filings he made.

      • TyphoidMari says:

        “that is why gossip among women saves lives” CO-SIGN 700000000000 TIMES.

      • Christina says:

        Word, Typoidmari!!! Spread it, chica!!

      • The Other Katherine says:

        To win a defamation suit in the U.S., where the plaintiff is a public figure like MM, the plaintiff must demonstrate that the preponderance of evidence shows not only that the damaging allegations were false, but that the defendant knew they were false or acted with reckless disregard for the truth. It’s not enough just to say, “Hey, that’s not been proven in court.” The problem, as you rightly point out, though, is that anyone can sue over just about anything and the court system is so insanely expensive to navigate. Plus, of course, the court case tends to take over your life when the plaintiff deliberately uses legal maneuvers abusively.

        Some states do have anti-SLAPP statutes that victims can use to fight back against these abusive lawsuits and win damages where they can demonstrate that the abusive lawsuit was designed to chill their exercise of their First Amendment free speech rights. But for people who don’t have an experienced 1A lawyer on speed-dial, the harsh reality is that it is often best to avoid discussing abuse in public, absent a criminal conviction beyond a reasonable doubt. The courts are so often used to revictimize domestic violence survivors all over again.

  9. Brooke says:

    I think it’s amazing that she has the strength that she does now. I think my parents did an amazing job raising me and my sisters. From a very young age, they drilled into our heads how powerful and smart we were. We were never told that we could do anything a man can do. I can still remember a teacher telling me that for the first time and looking at her like she was crazy. Of course I could do anything a man can do. Not only were we all taught to deeply respect other people but to demand it for ourselves. We were taught to be kind and giving but never at the expense of ourselves.

    The world sucks sometimes, especially for women. I never realized that until I really got out into the wold and saw just how bad others have it. I never realized how high the stakes were until I had my own girls. I refuse to leave them or any other woman the world we are living in now.

    • Cee says:

      I was raised the same way and it didn’t stop a former partner from abusing and raping me. It happens. The shock is terrible, the gas lighting messes with your head. Once you get out it seems so obvious, but while you’re in it it doesn’t seem possible, especially if you always believed to be such a strong, independent, smart woman.

      • Eleonor says:

        I am a feminist, an activist, and I don’t know how but I ended up in an abusive relationship. After he beat me the first time I run away, it’s been two years, but to me it’s still difficult to accept “I am a victim”.
        It happens, it can happen to anyone no matter the upbringing, no matter your education, or your salary. It can happen.

      • Kebbie says:

        @Eleonor Replace victim with survivor. You’re a survivor.

    • Christina says:

      It happened to me, too. I’m independent, bled for everything I have, grew up impoverished and street smart, paid for college at UCLA all by myself. I supposedly have a high IQ. It still happened to me.

      When I got my daughter back, her pediatrician called me to congratulate me and to tell me not to beat myself up. She said, “this happens to really smart women all the time. It happened to me.”

      Okay. I’m in tears now. Thank you, Drs Celebitchy and Kaiser, for giving us this site to process this shit and laugh about dumb celebrities while working through heartache, working on our wokeness, and showing us that we are not alone. ❤️

      • Ali says:

        ❤️ to you all and your brave hearts! It can happen to anyone. Silence is an abuser’s best weapon.

  10. Lipreng says:

    Marilyn Manson made public comments regarding wanting to crush Evan’s skull with a sledgehammer. Additionally, he claimed he once called her 158 times in a day and cut himself every time she didn’t answer in order to punish her. He’s disgusting. Last year Evan said that her abuser used to bind her up and beat her as well. I’m glad she’s speaking out about these things and wish her the best.

  11. Valiantly Varnished says:

    We ALL know who the guy is…Marilyn Manson. And if you look back at Evan during that time you can clearly see how she was being controlled and manipulated. He basically made her into a younger more controllable version of his ex-wife Dita Von Teese.

    • Christina says:

      Boy, did he!!! She became this goth princess, and everything about her changed. So glad that they both loved themselves enough to leave him.

      • Valiantly Varnished says:

        He actually left Dita…for Evan. They had just gotten married when he left her. Dita dodged a bullet for sure. She even vaguely states this.

    • Christina says:

      That’s right, VV!! I’d forgotten that he left her after they’d just married. Sleazebag…

      • Kage says:

        Yeah at the time it was a big scandal that Evan knowingly went for MM even though he was married. I always thought she was too young for him. That guy always seemed like a dark creep to me.

  12. Clsarah says:

    I can relate to this so well. It is hard to realize in the moment what is happening to you. Honestly I still struggle with trying to decide whether my college BF was abusive or not…and I’m a therapist now! I still catch myself trying to normalize it in my mind or blaming myself for what happened or minimizing it b/c it wasn’t as bad as what happens to others. Ironically my college BF loved Marilyn Manson , ha!

    • Cee says:

      We do that to protect ourselves from the pain and trauma of it.

    • KLO says:

      @Clsarah yes I get what you are saying. There was a guy I knew who never physically hurt me but he often made really hurtful remarks that made me wonder “what just happened”. I remember I stopped wearing my favorite dress in his presence because he was especially mean to me on the day I wore it to a party and I did not want to trigger him or want to make him feel bad for being mean to me (what the hell girl) because I wanted him to be my boyfriend (oh god). This is crazymaking stuff.

  13. Charfromdarock says:

    I’m so glad she survived and seems to thriving now.

    She is very strong to speak about this publicly and be an advocate to help others.

  14. Andrea says:

    My first boyfriend whom I was with for 3 years, 15 years ago reached out to me apologizing for his behavior towards me. He kicked me, was verbally abusive, and threatened to kill me at one point. He now is in a 12 step program for his anxiety, anger issues, and sex addiction. He has cheated on his wife multiple times because his marriage exacerbated his addictions(bullet dodged, he wanted to marry and have kids with me). I was happy to get the apology I never thought I’d ever get, but honestly that was a dark period of my life–the man who I first was vulnerable to and loved could do those things to me. I feel for Evan.

    • KLO says:

      Those kinds of apologies are rare. Im sorry you had to go through the abuse and happy you got out of it without marrying him. Go girl.

      • Andrea says:

        I should have added he reached out to me in September. It definitely was rare indeed! I feel sorry for his wife, for I happen to befriend someone years later who knows her first ex husband and the description of her is that she has very low self esteem, is an extreme pushover, and he ultimately left her because of those issues. It sounds like the ideal person for my ex boyfriend, but sadly not a healthy thing for sure.

      • GreenTurtle says:

        It kind of sounds like you’re putting some of the blame of her victimization on her, @Andrea. Smart, powerful women with high self-esteem can be gaslit.

  15. Mash says:

    After reading this post I took a look some of the old posts in the ERW tag. Some of those comment(er)s….esh.

  16. Cara says:

    She just perfectly described my marriage from hell. It’s so frustrating that she/we still have to “protect” our abusive partners because we can’t prove the abuse. It makes me nuts!! It’s one of the biggest injustices in the world!!!!

  17. MariaS says:

    MM will always be pathetic little Brian Warner from Ohio who slapped on makeup and created a ridiculous try hard persona for wealth and fame and abused beautiful women to shore up his fragile ego.