Actor Mena Suvari has candidly shared the harrowing story of being raped as a pre-teen and how it had a huge emotional impact on her afterwards. The star of American Beauty has previously spoken out about being sexually abused in her 2021 memoir, The Great Peace, along with how it left her seeking solace through hard drugs, such as meth, after.
In a new interview, Mena again recalled being raped at the age of 12 by one of her older brother's friends, who was 16.
Speaking with The Guardian, Mena said that despite always struggling to "be seen and heard” as the youngest of four children, it wasn't until after the attack that she felt such a deep loss of self.
"I didn't feel such a loss of sense of self until I was 12. When I was raped," she said, adding that initially the attacker had written her several love letters and doggedly pursued her, and that after the multiple assaults, he had told his school friends that she was a 'whore'.
"That sucked the life out of me," Mena continued. "I think that was just excessive confirmation that no one was going to save me, no one was going to do anything for me."
She added that a doctor put her on contraception afterwards, when she went to visit him for a bladder infection (a result of the attacks), and yet none of the adults in her life stepped in to protect her.
While also acknowledging how difficult it was to recount such traumatic times in her life for the book, Mena added that she has found some 'bittersweet' comfort in hearing from other people who connected with her experiences – and that the writing process was therapeutic for her.
"It was bittersweet [receiving messages] because it felt beautiful to feel seen and heard, but it was heartbreaking to hear that others had identified in similar ways. I didn't want that for them, but overall I feel very proud," she reflected. "I always hoped that [the book] could help create some kind of change and initiate further conversation."
It's admirable that Mena has spoken out about such awful past traumas in order to heal herself and help others, as well as hopefully create positive change surrounding consent, the way women and girls are viewed in society, and beyond. But it's not always easy to open up (and it's okay if you never, ever want to share your story of sexual assault publicly too).
If you're looking for support with anything related to sexual assault or rape, Rape Crisis England & Wales, Rape Crisis Scotland and Rape Crisis Northern Ireland are there to support you. Please reach out to them.
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