Mena Suvari is opening up about her painful past. In a new interview with People, the American Beauty star says she was the victim of repeated sexual abuse when she was between the ages of 12 and 20, and turned to drugs to escape.
The 42-year-old actress has a new memoir, The Great Peace: A Memoir, in which she talks about her trauma. Suvari says she was first raped when she was 12 years old and in the sixth grade by a friend of one of her older brothers.
“Part of me died that day,” she tells the magazine. “He used me, had fun with me and then disposed of me. He called me a whore. I never got to have a healthy expression of [sex]. My choice was lost. And that, compiled with already not feeling seen and heard, established a concept that I would have of myself. That that was my value.”
When she was 15 years old, Suvari decided to pursue acting and says she felt like she didn’t have a choice when one of her managers wanted to have a sexual relationship.
“By this time my family had pretty much fallen apart,” she recalls. “My mother had moved out and wanted to find herself and my father [who was much older] was in decline mentally and physically. I didn’t feel like I had any other options or was worthy of a life that was any different.”
At 16, Suvari met a man who became her boyfriend, and says that he abused her sexually and emotionally during their three-year relationship. She says he pressured her to participate in threesomes and pick up other women for him. Suvari acknowledges that she turned to drugs to cope.
“I turned to any form of self-medicating I could find, just to get by,” she says. “I was just trying to survive.”
Suvari rose to fame thanks to her breakout role in 1999’s American Beauty, and eventually broke it off with Tyler and began going to therapy and stopped taking drugs. She is now happily married to Mike Hope, her third husband, and they welcomed their son, Christopher, in April.
“It was the first time I felt I wanted to have a family with someone,” she says of Hope, whom she married in August 2018. “I found out I was pregnant when I finished writing the memoir.”
ET spoke to Suvari in January, and she opened up about being pregnant at 41.
“I feel really lucky, and it’s just wild,” she shared. “It truly feels like the most important thing that I will ever do in my life. Like, nothing else matters. Everything just changes in your life. He’ll come first.”
“I just want to help raise a loving, aware, sensitive, conscious human being,” she also shared. “I mean, really that’s the basis of all of it. I just want to give him the opportunity to experience all the magic in the world and practice his empathy and consideration of others.”
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