26-year-old Dallas actress AnnaLynne McCord was silent for eight years after being raped as a teen, but now she’s speaking out about the horrific event to find healing for herself and others.
“I was in this state of denial and wasn’t able to speak out until now,” she told People. “Eight years later, I’m finally at a place where I can talk about this and expose it, and hopefully show other survivors the support they need, because when we unite, we heal.” She now embarking on a speaking tour at universities to shed light on the subject.
McCord came to Los Angeles as a teen after a strict upbringing in what she describes as a physically abusive home. Her father was a Georgia, nondenominational pastor and her mother homeschooled Annalynne and her two sisters. They weren’t allowed to watch anything but Little House on the Prairie, and were told they couldn’t kiss until they got married (much like The Duggars.) She spoke to Cosmopolitan about ritualistic punishments that made her feel like her parents hated her.
“I found it all very confusing,” she explained. “I knew my mom and dad loved me, and I loved them too. I still do. My dad always told me I could be anything I wanted to be. But at the same time, my parents hurt me, which told me they hated me.”
At 15 her parents divorced, and she somehow convinced them to let her sign a modeling contract and move to Miami by herself. When she got there she acted out sexually, but never went “all the way.” She had messed up notion of what it meant to be loved because of her relationship with her parents, and says it drove her to get guys to be violent towards her. “After all, as I had learned in my childhood, people who loved me hurt me,” she says. “I would slap the guys, antagonize them, until I believed they wanted to hit me. My sexual relationships were dark and violently dramatic.” She eventually got involved with a caring boyfriend who convinced her to confront her parents, which she did.
Soon after that she moved to L.A. to pursue acting. Her boyfriend was supposed to follow soon after, but before he got there a “friend” spent the night and took advantage of her while she was sleeping. She asked him to stop, and he did, but the damage was already done. She would run into him sometimes at parties, and when she eventually confronted him, he said “What are you saying? What we had that night was beautiful.” Soon after that incident she opened up to friends and her boyfriend about what happened, and was able to call it “rape.”
A few years after the incident she got a role on the remake of 90210. She was in a tumultuous relationship with another actor, and at one point considered killing herself with a bottle of pills in Madrid. She stopped herself when she learned her sister Angel was flying to see her, but she still hadn’t confronted some of the issues that were causing her so much distress. A rape plot line on 90210 offered her another challenge. There were a lot of details to the story that were close to what happened to AnnaLynne, but she was also given the experience to talk with some of her fans about rape, which was healing for her. She had also found solace by meeting with trafficked sex slave survivors.
“I was in denial,” McCord says about that time. “I got connected to fighting human trafficking because of something I wasn’t admitting to. I did not validate what happened to me. I felt like I was doing the right thing, but it was for the wrong reasons.”
She’s now asking survivors of rape to send her their stories, and she promises to personally respond to every one. “The support has been amazing,” she told People about choosing to speak out. “You think in your head that the opposite is going to happen. You think that you’ll be shamed and there will be even more degradation, humiliation. And the opposite has been apparent. But what’s even more important than that to me has been the outreach from survivors who are telling me their stories.”
Part of the focus on her college tour will involve making young people aware of what the current technology is doing to how we view each other. “We’re in a generation where the era is – we have amazing technology. But unfortunately, what that technology is [doing is] dehumanizing us,” she says. “Guys are objectifying women more now than ever before in life because they see you on a screen. They’re seeing you send a picture, and you’re an image on a one-dimensional device. But you’re a three-dimensional human who has emotions and feelings.”