In an interview with fellow women’s rights advocate and actress Brie Larson, Jane Fonda has opened up about her heart-breaking past for Net-A-Porter magazine The Edit.
“I’ve been raped, I’ve been sexually abused as a child and I’ve been fired because I wouldn’t sleep with my boss and I always thought it was my fault; that I didn’t do or say the right thing,” she says.
“I know young girls who’ve been raped and didn’t even know it was rape,” she goes on. “They think, ‘it must have been because I said ‘no’ the wrong way.’”
It’s the first time the 79-year-old actress, activist and fitness guru has spoken publicly about her sexual abuse.
“I grew up in the ‘50s and it took me a long time to apply feminism to my life,” Fonda says. “The men in my life were wonderful, but victims of a [patriarchal] belief system. I felt diminished.”
“Eventually I decided I wasn’t going to give up who I was in order to please the man I was with.”
Fonda has long used her fame to draw attention to women’s issues – in 2001 she founded the Jane Fonda Centre for Adolescent Reproductive Health in Atlanta and in 2004 she led a march in Mexico to protest the hundreds of murders and disappearances of women and girls.
She’s also the founder of the V-Day movement, an initiative inspired by The Vagina Monologues that works to end violence against women.
“One of the great things the women’s movement has done is to make us realise [that rape and abuse is] not our fault. We were violated and it’s not right,” she says in The Edit interview.