Sixteen years old. 11 years old. 26 years old. Five years old. Sexual harassment and assault can happen to anyone of any age, and in a powerful new video, 11 women opened up about the first time they experienced abuse.
"The first time I experienced sexual abuse, I was six years old," one woman says.
The video, directed by Lara Everly, sheds light on some of the stories being told in the wake of #MeToo, the hashtag that raised awareness for sexual violence after the public revelations about Harvey Weinstein. One of the women in the video, Melissa Sagemiller, says that she was working on a Weinstein film when he had harassed her.
"I woke up from my sleep to the guy that I was dating, raping me," another of the women says. "I didn't say anything at first, because I didn't want to be labeled as a victim. When I finally came to terms with it, I tried to commit suicide."
Everly said that after the accusations against Weinstein came out and #MeToo began trending on Twitter, she debated sharing her own #MeToo story, but instead decided to "elevate these stories and create something beautiful out of all this ash."
"In the wake of all the allegations against Harvey Weinstein and now many others, I sat gutted reading all the #MeToo stories popping up on my social media feed," Everly said in a statement shared with Refinery29. "I was outraged and saddened realizing how many women I knew had experienced sexual harassment and abuse, but I also felt inspired by the solidarity knowing I wasn’t alone."
The result is a nuanced look at a few of the voices of #MeToo, a hashtag that's been years in the making, and has now come to be a rallying cry of solidarity for survivors. However, you don't have to come forward to be brave — and your experiences matter even if you don't speak about them publicly.
Watch the full video above.
Directed by Lara Everly
Associate Produced by
Director of Photography: Pablo Berron
Talent Director: Eden Mayle
Editor: Sean Stender
Writer: Eliza Arnold
First Assistant Camera: Craig Cam
2nd Assistant Camera: Evan Nelson
Gaffer: Nghia Khuu
Grip: Forest Brown
DIT: Nina Chadha
Assistant Editor: Moss Eletreby
Hair & Make Up: Chelsea Allen
PA: Henry O’Shea, Erik Herrera, Jenny Graham
Color: Bobby Maruvada
Song: “The Surface Changes” by Kaki King
Featuring: Karla Amezola, Paige Cary, Alona Dadiani, Beth Dover, Balire Elspeth, Wendy Rose, Jade Tailor, Olivia Tai, Melissa Sagemiller, Vinessa Shaw, Tiffany Snow
Special Thanks: Cut + Run, Logan Schneider, 20/20 Camera, Asher Brown, Pollution Studios, Julien Janigo, Brian Welsh, 360 Grip, Konrad Sigurdsson, Trikon pictures.
If you have experienced sexual violence and are in need of crisis support, please call the RAINN Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).
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