“We can heal. That has been my experience,” she began during a conversation with #MeToo movement founder Tarana Burke. “We may not know, admittedly, how to or even from what we need to heal. It may be the event itself or vivid or dull memories of it, and it is entirely plausible that we don’t even remember the event.”
Calling up one of her own memories, Judd spoke of “a police record of a time I was sexually assaulted in high school. I was wearing a green-and-gold cheerleader uniform, my mother tells me. It was in a local store and I have no memory of that crime.”
“Healing is our birthright,” she declared. “It was not our birthright to be sexually harassed or assaulted or raped based on social constructs of gender, biology, sex, identity, orientation, ethnicity, race, ability, or any intersection thereof. It is our birthright to know in our bones that it wasn’t our fault. We humans hurt each other and sometimes we hurt ourselves, but we can make decisions and take actions that free us.”
Judd was one of the many women who came forward against Harvey Weinstein, the now-disgraced Hollywood movie mogul accused of decades of sexual harassment and sexual assault. (Weinstein has denied any instance of non-consensual sex.)
The actress has since used her voice to raise awareness of sexual assault, and she appeared on the panel Saturday with such figures as Julianne Moore, Sarah Jessica Parker, Fatima Goss Graves of the National Women’s Law Center, poet and activist Robin Morgan, and Alianza Nacional de Campesinas co-founder and president Mónica Ramírez.
“This is not fair. Let’s be plain,” Judd said. “It isn’t right or fair that one out of four girls and one out of six boys will be sexually assaulted, by conservative estimates, by the age of 18 — amongst other catastrophic statistics. But, and this is everything, my friends, when we become aware of our pain and have some education about it, we become responsible for addressing our pain in effective and healthy ways.
“What happened to us will always have been wrong, sexist, and criminal. Yet we are fundamentally and ultimately responsible, respond-able to our own lives,” she continued. “This may sound harsh, but it means we have autonomy, we are powerful, and we have agency.”
Judd concluded her letter by telling survivors, “You are not alone. I believe you, and it wasn’t your fault.”
As “rage” becomes victims’ “strength” and as “depression becomes expression,” she admits “there will still be the hard days.”
“The facts do remain the facts,” she said, “but we know our preciousness and our fierceness. Healing, damn it, is our birthright.”
— With reporting by Joey Nolfi.