On Tuesday, a Westworld actress sat before Congress and detailed the sexual abuse she experienced years ago. The most powerful quotes from Evan Rachel Wood's testimony were meant to highlight why she believes all 50 states should pass their own version of the Sexual Assault Survivors’ Bill of Rights Act. That bill became federal law two years ago with unanimous support, but it carries no weight in the individual states, most of which have yet to pass similar legislation of their own.
The Sexual Assault Survivors’ Bill of Rights Act mandates that rape kits be preserved until the statute of limitations expires and gives survivors the right to know the forensic results of their kit. It's tacked onto the 2004 Crime Victims’ Rights Act, of which every state later passed its own version. However, just nine states have passed a version of the Sexual Assault Survivors' Bill of Rights: California, Idaho, Maryland, Massachusetts, Oregon, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington.
Wood was one of three women who testified about the sexual abuse they experienced, urging Congress to grant survivors' rights nationwide. Her testimony shined a light on how sexual abuse affects survivors both physically and mentally — and why they deserve a safety net.
"It Started Slow"
"It started slow but escalated over time, including threats against my life, severe gaslighting and brainwashing, [and] waking up to the man that claimed to love me raping what he believed to be my unconscious body."
"I Truly Felt Like I Could Die"
"In this moment, being tied up and being beaten and told unspeakable things, I truly felt like I could die. Not just because my abuser said to me, ‘I could kill you right now,’ but because in that moment I felt like I left my body and I was too afraid to run. He would find me."
"Disappear, Go Numb"
"Because of this abuse, when I was pushed onto the floor of a locked storage closest by another attacker, after hours at a bar, my body instinctively knew what to do: Disappear, go numb, make it go away."
"Easier For Me To Be Raped Again"
"Being abused and raped previously made it easier for me to be raped again, not the other way around."
"I Simply Thought I Was Going Crazy"
"Seven years after my rapes — plural — I was diagnosed with long term PTSD, which I had been living with all that time without knowledge about my condition. I simply thought I was going crazy. I struggled with self-harm to the point of two suicide attempts, which landed me in a psychiatric hospital for a short period of time. This was, however, a turning point in my life when I started seeking professional help to deal with my trauma and mental stress."
"Others Are Not So Fortunate"
"But others are not so fortunate. And because of this, rape is often more than a few minutes of trauma, but a slow death."
"I Feel Sorry For You"
"I would like to say to my attackers that I don't hate you; I feel sorry for you. I'm not here to shame you; I want to understand you. And I want you to understand me, but you have to listen first."
"This Makes Me Think Of My Son"
"This makes me think of my son and the world that he will be raised in. And the day I will have to explain to him what rape means and why it happened to his mother."
"The Lies Society Tells Us About Men"
"I realized it could be just as easy for my son to fall prey to the lies society tells us about men, things like they have uncontrollable impulses to hurt people. And I think that is cruel to tell a child — that this is just how men are."
"A Safety Net That May Save Someone’s Life"
"This bill is just one step in the right direction of setting the bar higher for what’s right and what the standard will be that we will set for society. The recognition of basic civil rights for sexual assault survivors serves as a first step. It’s a safety net that may save someone’s life one day."
"This Is Called Progress"
"In order to ensure all survivors are protected under this law, we need to pass this bill in all 50 states. We’ve done this in nine so far, and it’s our job to make sure that survivors in the remaining 41 are treated with the same humanity and dignity. This is called progress and it starts here."
After her testimony, Wood tweeted a photo of herself before Congress with the caption: "Never stop fighting."