Mira Sorvino on liberating herself from sexual assault silence: 'I mattered'
Mira Sorvino may have played a huge role in the recent movement of sexual assault victims speaking their truth, but opening up turned out to be just as important on a personal level.
Appearing alongside Lupita Nyong’o, Cynthia Erivo, and Amber Tamblyn at the Tribeca Film Festival’s day-long Time’s Up event on Saturday, the Oscar-winning actress discussed her struggle with liberating herself from the trauma of sexual assault six months after claiming in a New Yorker exposé that Harvey Weinstein harassed her in 1995.
“I’ve met some incredible survivors who’ve really changed my life and my heart,” Sorvino told writer and panel moderator Michaela Angela Davis when asked about her lengthy history with social justice causes — including her ongoing work against human trafficking as a UN Goodwill Ambassador. “But this year it kind of came home to roost… not only the story that all of you guys know, but something that [happened earlier]. I was also assaulted when I was a teenager in a much more violent way.”
She continued: “I’ve always kept these stories buried down deep. I did not deal with them, I did not get trauma help, I did not get counseling, and all of a sudden… when Ronan [Farrow] asked me to talk to him about the Harvey Weinstein situation, I decided against all kinds of fear and terror to come out and speak. All of a sudden, it became that I mattered: my own story, my own violation, my own violence — it mattered enough that I needed to get up, [and] if I could take a step to stand up for myself, maybe it will actually help other people to take that step.”
She also acknowledged that the work of #MeToo founder Tarana Burke — who took the stage later during the event — laid the foundation for the current “watershed moment” in our culture of increasing awareness about stories of sexual assault.
“I feel like it’s something that has happened to everybody I love… sexual violence has been here forever and it’s only now that we, as a culture, are cracking it open and saying, ‘We are going to talk about it because we are going to finally try and end it,'” she added. Sorvino says she’s currently working with legislative groups in California on a slate of bills that aim to extend the statute of limitations on sexual harassment from one year to three years. “We’re going to end this atmosphere of impunity for the abusers because they’ve always gotten away with it because they relied upon our silence.”
After Sorvino went public with her alleged Weinstein experience, several directors came forward with claims that the disgraced producer had attempted to blackball her from future productions — namely Lord of the Rings helmer Peter Jackson, who told New Zealand publication Stuff that Weinstein had attempted to mount a “smear campaign” against Sorvino following her decision to report his alleged harassment.
In a statement to EW, Weinstein denied Jackson’s claims. He previously denied all allegations of non-consensual sex — including claims that he retaliated against women who refused his reported advances. “Any allegations of non-consensual sex are unequivocally denied by Mr. Weinstein,” his representatives said in a statement from October 2017. “Mr. Weinstein has further confirmed that there were never any acts of retaliation against any women for refusing his advances. Mr. Weinstein obviously can’t speak to anonymous allegations, but with respect to any women who have made allegations on the record, Mr. Weinstein believes that all of these relationships were consensual. Mr. Weinstein has begun counseling, has listened to the community and is pursuing a better path. Mr. Weinstein is hoping that, if he makes enough progress, he will be given a second chance.”