[Warning: Potentially Triggering Content]
More than three decades ago, Brooke Shields was sexually assaulted by a Hollywood executive. She never said a word about the assault at the time, or for years after, except to report it to one trusted friend. Now, she’s coming clean about her story as part of her forthcoming two-part Hulu documentary.
As you may recall, we first covered news of Brooke’s heartbreaking sexual assault story back in January. When her new docuseries Brooke Shields: Pretty Baby first premiered at the Sundance Film Festival that month, the supermodel-slash-actress made headlines as she spoke openly on camera about that awful rape.
Now, in a new interview with People, the Princeton University alum recalls what it was like to go through that terrible experience. And she also explains why she didn’t speak out at the time. As Brooke told the mag, she was at “the lowest point of my career” in the early 1990s and “unable” to find Hollywood work despite having previously starred in the likes of Pretty Baby and The Blue Lagoon.
One night, hoping to pick up a movie role, she went to dinner with a Hollywood exec. After dinner, she alleges, he brought her up to his hotel room and sexually assaulted her. She “didn’t fight” the awful event, and recalls instead how she “just froze” while trying to get through the experience.
Remembering now the shame and guilt she felt because of it, Shields explained:
“I kept saying, ‘I shouldn’t have done that. Why did I go up with him? I shouldn’t have had that drink at dinner.'”
But as she told the news outlet in Wednesday morning’s new interview, she quickly (too quickly) tried to move past the assault and instead chose to disassociate completely:
“It was really easy to disassociate because by then it was old hat. And because it was a fight-or-flight type of choice. Fight was not an option, so you just leave your body. ‘You’re not there. It didn’t happen.'”
And she went on:
“I’d always had a sense of disassociation from my body. From my sexuality. I was mostly a cover girl … and it was just easier to shut myself off. I was good at it. Doing the documentary, you see it all together, and it’s a miracle that I survived.”
The now-57-year-old star also recalled the awful reality of what it would have meant to go public with a sexual assault claim like that at the time:
“No one is going to believe me. People weren’t believing those stories back then. I thought I would never work again.”
As we noted up top, Brooke told just one confidant about the rape. Longtime friend Gavin de Becker was the one she chose to trust with her secret. And for thirty years, he never revealed. But with Shields sharing her truth now in the Hulu doc, which is set to premiere on April 3, de Becker is speaking out as well.
He told People on Wednesday:
“Brooke lived so long in the judgment of others, by the millions, so it was heartbreaking to see her judge herself. It has also been inspiring to see her integrate the truth as she has.”
That’s a strong statement from a longtime friend.
As for the mom of two, she is hoping this Hulu reveal will work towards “helping people not feel alone.” She explained:
“It’s taken me a long time to process it. I’m more angry now than I was able to be then. If you’re afraid, you’re rightfully so. They are scary situations. They don’t have to be violent to be scary. … Everybody processes their own trauma on a different timeline. I want to be an advocate for women to be able to speak their truth.”
Along with the doc release early next month, Brooke has been working hard on her online wellness community Beginning Is Now. The star — who is married to writer Chris Henchy, with whom she shares daughters Rowan, 19, and Grier, 16 — first launched that project in 2021. Today, she’s optimistic about where it (and she!) are headed in the future.
In the interview, she hopefully concluded:
“The goal is to ignite a spark in women over 40 to revel in what we’ve done, and enjoy his next beautiful chapter. … I always kept going, like a bull in a china shop. I will not be defeated.”
We love to hear that!
Obviously, Brooke has been through some difficult moments in her career — this terrible sexual assault chief among them. Now, it’s very heartening to hear how she’s lived to tell about it and come out strong and stable on the other side. Sending love and light!!
If you or someone you know has experienced sexual violence and would like to learn more about resources, consider checking out https://www.rainn.org/resources.
[Image via MEGA/WENN]