Evan Rachel Wood Is Helping Other Survivors Get Their Day in Court

For several years, Evan Rachel Wood has been championing the Phoenix Act—a bill which, if passed, would allow for special considerations in cases of sexual assault to extend the statute of limitations for victims to file charges.

evan rachel wood, phoenix act
In naming her alleged abuser, Wood also professed a desire to “call out the many industries that have enabled him before he ruins more lives.” (@evanrachelwood / Instagram)

On Monday, actor and activist Evan Rachel Wood released an Instagram post leveling accusations of domestic violence and sexual assault against former partner Marilyn Manson, standing in solidarity “with the many victims who will no longer be silent.”

In naming her alleged abuser, Wood also professed a desire to “call out the many industries that have enabled him before he ruins more lives.”

In the days since Wood’s revelation, several other survivors and witnesses have come forward to levy their own charges of abuse and intimidation against Manson. Photographer Ashley Walters, model Sarah McNeilly and filmmaker Love Bailey are among a growing cohort of brave individuals breaking their silence about the alleged maltreatment they endured at the hands of the proclaimed shock-rocker.  Several of Manson’s former colleagues have also stepped forward to corroborate these allegations, describing the frightening behavior Manson has displayed towards many of his associates.

Wood’s reveal has also prompted California state senator and sexual assault survivor Susan Rubio to send a letter to Acting Attorney General Monty Wilkinson asking him to engage in a thorough investigation of the charges against Manson, stating that a failure to do so would be “failing the victims.”


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Manson, whose real name is Brian Warner, was unceremoniously dropped from his label, Loma Vista Recordings, upon publication of the accounts.  He was also subsequently removed from two television productions in which he was slated to feature, and denounced by a number of major brands.

Although she had not previously revealed the identity of her abuser, Wood has been vocal about her experience with assault, and outspoken in her pursuit of justice for victims of domestic violence, for several years.

In February of 2018, Wood joined an assemblage of four women who testified before a House Judiciary committee on the need for more stringent implementation of the Sexual Assault Survivor’s Bill of Rights

The bill—which was certified into law by former-President Obama in 2016—was a critical modification of the Victims of Crime Act of 1984, and has laid a basic framework for how state and local authorities are to investigate reports of sexual assault.  It was drafted and spearheaded by survivor and advocate Amanda Nguyen, whose own assault case was not adequately processed due to a failing on the part of the criminal justice system to preserve her rape kit. 

Nguyen has since founded Rise—an organization dedicated to empowering individuals to draft their own sexual assault legislative reform and which has strengthened civil protections for nearly 60 million survivors in the United States and Japan.

However, at the 2018 hearing, Nguyen, along with Wood and Rise senior advisor and fellow survivor Lauren Libby, asserted that while the Survivor’s Bill of Rights does more at the federal level to establish certain entitlements for victims, it is not enough.

The final of the four to testify at the hearing was Rebecca O’Connor, RAINN vice president of public policy, who maintained that kindred legislation when passed at the state level would make certain investigative practices, such a free rape kits and policy transparency, “not only a right on paper, but in practice.”

California’s Phoenix Act Could Set the Tone for Federal Legislation

In April of 2019, Wood also appeared in front of the California State Senate. Her testimony that day was on behalf of her own proposed legislation— aptly titled the Phoenix Act.

While the current average statute of limitations in most states only allows victims two to four years to file a civil claim against their abuser, the Phoenix Act, co-sponsored by California Senator Susan Rubio, petitions to extend these limitations in sexual assault cases to 10 years when there is incontrovertible evidence that the abuse occurred, or when there are three or more accusers for a single perpetrator.

This extension acknowledges the complexities inherent in experiences of sexual assault, the fact that it often takes victims several years to process their trauma, and that pursuit of a civil case can be delayed due to fear. 

“The fear of being judged by society is debilitating, and the fear of retaliation from my abuser is paralyzing,” articulated Wood in her 2019 testimony. In penning the act, Wood professed her desire to “create a cushion [for victims] to leave their dangerous situations, get the help they need, and come back from their trauma in order to pursue justice and stop serial abusers.”

The Phoenix Act was passed unanimously, and signed into law by Governor Newsom in January of 2020. Wood and her team have since set their sights on passing this bill in all fifty states.

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About

Sarah Samantha Alexander is a writer, actor, and musician from Los Angeles, CA. She attempts to use visual and performative arts to spark meaningful conversation about social and political activism. She currently teaches Special Education for the Los Angeles Unified School District. Find her on Instagram or at her Website.