Meryl Streep recounted the two times she faced “real terror”, saying her experiences with violence changed her permanently.
The Oscar-winning actor spoke of these attacks while at the Committee to Protect Journalists’ 27th annual International Press Freedom Awards in New York this week.
Streep said that in one instance she was the victim and had “played dead” to survive a violent beating from a person she did not name. She said she had also witnessed – and stepped in to stop – an attack on another person, adding that Cher was “there”.
Commenting on the bravery of journalists who face threats while doing their jobs, she said wasn't a naturally brave person, but she had experienced terror.
"I do know something about real terror," she told the audience.
"The two times in my life when I was threatened and dealt with real physical violence I learned something about life that I wouldn't have known otherwise."
"And I was lucky because my instincts served me well."
The 68-year-old recalled that when she was attacked she had an out-of-body experience.
"In one instance, I played dead and waited until the blows stopped. Watching, like people say you do, from about 50ft above, as I was beaten," she said.
"And in the second instance, someone else was being abused and I just went completely nuts and went after this man. Ask Cher, she was there.
"The thug ran away, it was a miracle."
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While The Post actress survived both events, she said she "was changed by these events on a cellular level".
She went on to note that women's vulnerability to violence makes them more able to perceive danger, and therefore more observant, which can be helpful for both investigative journalism and acting.
Streep's revelation serves as a reminder that any woman can be the victim of violence, no matter their background, race, age or socio-economic status. One in three women, worldwide, will experience either sexual or physical violence in their lifetime - usually from an intimate partner, according to the World Health Organisation.
If you or someone you care about has experienced physical or sexual violence, you can contact 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732.