Shailene Woodley Said That Her Standing Rock Arrest Gave Her PTSD

Photo: Alexander Tamargo/Getty Images.
Shailene Woodley may be best known for her role in the Divergent series, but her real-life environmental efforts happen to mirror a few of the film's darker facets. In a new interview with Marie Claire U.K., Woodley described her time at Standing Rock, where she was protesting the Dakota Access pipeline, as one of the most traumatizing experiences of her life.
Woodley says that during the protest, she saw tanks that looked identical to the ones that were on set at Divergent. It was the only instance, she explains, where she saw heavy-duty military equipment in real life. She compared the situation to the bleak, militant world of the apocalyptic teen film, but she couldn't expect what came after her arrest. On October 10, Woodley was taken into custody for "trespassing and engaging in a riot," E! News reports. After her arrest, she described her experience as dehumanizing, comparing it to being like a "caged animal."
"I was strip-searched. Like get naked, turn over, spread your butt cheeks, bend over," she told the magazine. "They were looking for drugs in my ass."
Thanks to a plea deal, Woodley avoided any jail time, but she says that her time in custody was enough to give her lasting trauma. In addition to the cavity search, she explained that the isolation also affected her deeply. Locked up in a cell, she said that she realized that her life was out of her hands. If there was a fire at the station, she noted, the officers could decide not to free her and let her burn.
"There was so much trauma," Woodley said, describing her PTSD symptoms. "Mine was like, 'What do I do now?' Kind of like a little bit of depression."
Even with the lasting emotional repercussions, Woodley says that she's not deterred from speaking up. The Dakota Access pipeline and other environmental issues passed because people got too comfortable, she explained. Now that she's seen it all firsthand, she feels more empowered than ever and feels like real change is definitely possible.
"To me, the biggest shift we can make is the mindfulness around these things. That's the catalyst for change. We must wake up every morning and ask ourselves, 'How can I do more? How am I willing to shift my lifestyle to actually create the change I complain about?'" she told the magazine. "Now, all of a sudden you're empowered, you're passionate, you have a fuel beneath your feet to move forward in a way that's conducive not only for your own personal life but also for the world as well."
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