McKayla Maroney & Other Female Celebrities Share Gut-Wrenching #MeToo Stories

Oct 18, 2017 at 12:00 p.m. ET
Image: Getty Images

The Harvey Weinstein sexual harassment and assault case has allowed women to step forward with their own stories. Alyssa Milano took to Twitter to encourage women to use the hashtag #MeToo to share their stories of sexual exploitation. #MeToo was originally created in the mid-2000s by Tarana Burke — an organizer and youth worker who survived sexual assault — and empowered women, particularly young women of color, to share their stories. In light of the Weinstein scandal, this hashtag has seen major pickup with many people (including lots of celebrities) using their voices to share their experiences with the world.

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McKayla Maroney

On Oct. 18, Olympic gymnast McKayla Maroney shared a devastating account of being sexually abused by the U.S. Olympic team's doctor, Larry Nassar, for years while she was competing.

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"People should know that this is not just happening in Hollywood. This is happening everywhere. Wherever there is a position of power, there seems to be potential for abuse," she wrote.

Maroney said Nassar molested her frequently, claiming that he was giving her "medically necessary treatment that he had been performing on patients for over 30 years."

"It started when I was 13 years old, at one of my first National Team training camps, in Texas, and it didn't end until I left the sport," she wrote. "It seemed whenever and wherever this man could find the chance, I was 'treated.'"

Previous to Maroney's claims, Nassar has been accused of sexual assault by more than 125 women and is facing 22 counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct.

America Ferrera

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America Ferrera bravely revealed on social media that her sexual assault incident happened when she was only 9 years old. To make matters worse, she had to continually see the offender on a “daily basis for years.”

Ferrera explained her emotions as a young girl. "[The f]irst time I can remember being sexually assaulted I was 9 years old," she wrote. "I told no one and lived with the shame and guilt thinking all along that I, a 9-year-old child, was somehow responsible for the actions of a grown man."

Reese Witherspoon

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Reese Witherspoon used her speech at the Elle Women in Hollywood event to share her own situation that occurred when she was 16.

“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,” she said on Monday.

“[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,” Witherspoon continued. “And I wish that I could tell you that was an isolated incident in my career, but sadly it wasn’t. I’ve had multiple experiences of harassment and sexual assault and I don’t speak about them very often.”

Sadly, she and Ferrara joined a growing group of famous women and men who have experienced sexual harassment and assault on the job at a very young age.

More: Harvey Weinstein's Wife Georgina Chapman Announces She's Leaving Him

Jennifer Lawrence

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At the same Elle event, Jennifer Lawrence told her story, and not all the harassment came from men she worked with. A female producer contributed to her humiliation during an audition.

"During this time, a female producer had me do a nude lineup with about five women who were much, much thinner than me. We stood side-by-side with only tape covering our privates," Lawrence said on Monday. "After that degrading and humiliating lineup, the female producer told me I should use the naked photos of myself as inspiration for my diet."

Furthermore, during this audition, a male producer added his two cents to the situation. "He said he didn't know why everyone thought I was so fat. He thought I was 'perfectly fuckable,'" Lawrence continued. "I let myself be treated a certain way because I felt I had to for my career."

More: Lindsay Lohan Is One of the Only People Defending Harvey Weinstein Right Now

Martha Stewart

Martha Stewart recently came forward with her own tales from her days as a model. At the age of 16, Stewart was asked to don a bikini for her go-see.

"I was asked to wear a bikini under my clothes. I thought, 'Oh, maybe we're doing a beach commercial or something,'" Stewart said to People. "So I go into the room and there's a table with all men sitting around it and it's an advertisement agency, I can't remember which one it was. They said, 'Now you can take your clothes off,' and I said, 'Oh, is this where are we doing the commercial? Are we wearing bikinis in the commercial?' They said, 'No, but as long as you're here we might as well see what you look like.' I thought that was harassment of the first order."

She had the strength to tell the men that "this is not what I'm here for" and extricated herself from the situation.

These four celebrities join a long list of women who have bravely shared their stories. It’s too long a list and these stories aren't only hitting Hollywood. So many women in other industries share too similar a tale.

If you're experiencing sexual harassment in the workplace and are unsure what to do, call the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission at 800-669-4000 for help.

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