Trigger warning: This post contains graphic details about domestic abuse, sexual assault and rape which might be distressing to some readers.
The 30-year-old went into graphic detail of being raped and assaulted by her domestic partner and another assailant while locked in a storage closet at a bar.
“Even though these experiences happened a decade ago, I still struggle with the aftermath,” she said in her five minute speech, which you can watch here.
“My relationship suffers, my partners suffer, my mental and physical health suffer. 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.”
The single mum of one recounted the horrific experiences that she was subjected to, saying that the psychological affect of “being abused and raped previously made it easier for [her] to be raped again.”
“It started slow but escalated over time, including threats against my life, severe gas-lighting and brainwashing, [and] waking up to the man that claimed to love me raping what he believed to be my unconscious body.”
The actress also spoke of her struggle with “depression, addiction, agoraphobia [fear of places and situations that might cause panic, helplessness or embarrassment], and night terrors,” and spoke about her two suicide attempts which eventually became the catalyst for her seeking recovery.
“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.”
Appearing with four other witnesses including Amanda Nguyen, the CEO and founder of RISE, and Rebecca O’Connor, the Vice President of the Rape Abuse Incest National Network (RAINN), the purpose of Wood’s testimony was to extend the rights of the 2016 Sexual Assault Survivors’ Bill of Rights Act to all victims.
The main debate centres around preserving rape kits and giving the victim the right to have their kit preserved for 20 years or the duration of the statute of limitations which differs state to state.
Victims would also not have to pay for their forensic examination, would be informed of the result of the examination, would be provided with written policies on forensic testing kits, informed before their examination kit was destroyed and be allowed to request further preservation.
Currently these rights are available to all federal cases, but Wood and others want this to be extended to state cases as well.
Calling for the state-wide protection of sexual assault survivors, she called herself “fortunate” for her status, while acknowledging that for other victims rape is often “more than a few minutes of trauma, but [a] slow death.”
“If you can’t hear the whole truth, you will never know true empathy,” she said.
“And I believe in the saying, ‘If we have to live through it, you should have to hear it.'”
If this post brings up any issues for you, or if you just feel like you need to speak to someone, please call 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) – the national sexual assault, domestic and family violence counselling service. It doesn’t matter where you live, they will take your call and, if need be, refer you to a service closer to home.