Witherspoon, 41, and Lawrence, 27, were among the women to discuss their experiences with sexual assault and objectification Monday at the Elle Women in Hollywood event following multiple sexual assault allegations against producer Harvey Weinstein.
“This has been a really hard week for women in Hollywood, for women all over the world, and a lot of situations and a lot of industries are forced to remember and relive a lot of ugly truths,” Witherspoon said, according to People.
“[I feel] true disgust at the director who assaulted me when I was 16 years old and anger at the agents and the producers who made me feel that silence was a condition of my employment,” she shared without naming her assailant.
“I wish that I could tell you that was an isolated incident in my career, but sadly it wasn’t,” the star added. “I’ve had multiple experiences of harassment and sexual assault and I don’t speak about them very often.”
Lawrence recalled how she was once told to lose 15 pounds in two weeks during her early career, according to USA Today. The actress said she was asked to do a nude lineup with five other women, then told to use the naked photos “as inspiration” for her diet.
“I was trapped, and I can see that now,” she said of the experience. “I didn’t want to be a whistleblower, I didn’t want these embarrassing stories talked about in a magazine. I just wanted a career.”
“In a dream world, everyone is treated with the same amount of respect. But until we reach that goal, I will lend my ear, I will lend my voice to any boy, girl, man or woman who does not feel like they can protect themselves,” the star declared.
Witherspoon and Lawrence’s stories follow Weinstein’s expulsion from the Motion Picture Academy of Arts and Sciences and his production company, The Weinstein Co. The producer is accused of sexually harassing and/or assaulting multiple women, including actresses Gwyneth Paltrow and Angelina Jolie, throughout his career.