Ashley Judd tells assault survivors: 'We can heal'

Judd read an open letter during an event in New York hosted by the Tribeca Film Festival and the Time's Up movement

Actress Ashley Judd. Picture: @AshleyJudd/Twitter

LONDON - Ashley Judd has delivered an empowering message to sexual assault survivors, telling them "healing is our birthright".

The 50-year-old actress - who was one of the first women to publicly accuse Harvey Weinstein of sexual harassment - read an open letter during an event in New York hosted by the Tribeca Film Festival and the Time's Up movement, which was promoting equality in the workplace.

Judd told sexual assault survivors: "We can heal, that has been my experience. Healing is our birthright. It was not our birthright to be sexually harassed or assaulted or raped ... (but) it is our birthright to know in our bones that it wasn't our fault. We humans hurt each other and sometimes we hurt ourselves, but we can make decisions and take actions that free us."

In her letter, the actress also spoke of being sexually assaulted when she was a high school student, an incident she does not remember, but was reported to police.

She revealed: "I was wearing a green and gold cheerleader's uniform, my mother tells me. It was in a local store and I have no memory of that crime."

The Double Jeopardy star ended the message by suggesting that "our rage become our strength, our energy and our motivation."

According to The New York Post newspaper's Page Six column, Judd added: "What was depression becomes expression and self-pity and help are transformed into dignity, integrity and courage. There will still be the hard days ... but we know our preciousness and our fierceness. Healing ... is our birthright."

Other panellists at the event included #MeToo founder Tarana Burke, and actresses Lupita Nyong'o, Mira Sorvino, Julianne Moore, Sienna Miller and Mariska Hargitay.

One of the leaders of the Time's Up movement, lawyer Nina Shaw, spoke of the need to involve women of every ethnicity in the debate.

She said: "For me, success would mean when people say 'women,' they mean all women. One of the things we say a lot in Time's Up is 'women of all kinds' because you often hear the phrase 'women and people of colour.' Well, we ARE women."