Sorvino talked about her trauma during a news conference with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and other Time’s Up activists advocating for better legislation for victims of rape, assault and harassment in New York’s state Capitol in Albany.
Sorvino has previously spoken up about alleged sexual harassment in two incidents, once with disgraced film producer Harvey Weinstein and another by a casting director. But her tearful speech was the first time she spoke publicly about being raped.
She described her assault as a “second-degree rape,” which, according to New York state law, occurs when an adult engages in sexual intercourse with a person less than 15 years old or has intercourse with a person who was unable to give consent.
“This past year and a half has been a very interesting and hard and wonderful time for me,” Sorvino said of the Me Too movement. “But I can stand here before you and say not only was I a sexual harassment and battery victim at the hands of Mr. Weinstein ... but I’m also a sexual assault victim and I’m also a survivor of date rape.”
The panel on Wednesday specifically urged state lawmakers to repeal the statute of limitations for second- and third-degree rape, and add more legislation aimed at protecting victims of sexual harassment and assault.
Sorvino described the #MeToo movement, which aims to encourage victims of harassment or assault to speak up, as “wonderful” but said it caused her emotional pain because of her past abuse.
In the last two years, as the movement rose to prominence, the actress said, she had to address her trauma as a rape survivor and “revisit my past and my demons in a way that I really had not fully explored.”
She decided to speak out Wednesday in hopes that more survivors would do the same and see justice as a result, she said.
“It is impossible sometimes to share these sort of things,” she said of coming forward with her story. “I’m doing it here to try and help because there are all these survivors out there right now who need justice, who need to feel that they can take the time they need to sort through the trauma, to sort through the shame, because I can tell you in situations of second-degree rape, which is what mine would constitute .... You feel shame.”
In 2017, as sexual assault accusations against Weinstein began to mount, Sorvino said she too had been sexually harassed by the producer during a 1995 film festival. She detailed another story of misbehavior in 2018, saying a casting director gagged her with a condom in preparation for a horror movie when she was just16 years old.
Sorvino on Wednesday did not provide details of the rape or the rapist but she did describe the complicated feelings that survivors deal with and how it keeps them silent.
“You feel somehow that it was your fault. You feel that you should have been smarter, that you should have protected yourself better,” the actress said before describing her experience growing up in a “Christian home” with a “patriarchal Italian family.”
“There is still a shame to anything sexual being public, so you don’t want to air your dirty laundry to other people, even if it was forced upon you,” she said.
After Sorvino’s speech, Cuomo offered a round of applause in support of the actress’ bravery.
“I don’t think I’ve ever heard a more intelligent, powerful, persuasive point that you just made, and God bless you for being so brave and courageous,” the governor said.
Need help? Visit RAINN’s National Sexual Assault Online Hotline or the National Sexual Violence Resource Center’s website.