Ashley Judd isn't afraid to open up about a very personal -- and disturbing -- topic.
In a new op-ed she penned for Mic.com's "Pass the Mic" series, the 46-year-old Insurgent actress elaborates on why she's fighting back against the disturbing tweets she received on Sunday, when the longtime Kentucky Wildcats superfan heatedly suggested that the Arkansas Razorbacks were "playing dirty" against her team. Judd told MSNBC on Tuesday that she's pressing charges against some of her Twitter trolls.
Now, in a powerful essay titled "Forget Your Team: Your Online Violence Toward Girls and Women Is What Can Kiss My Ass," Judd recalls her own traumatic experiences of sexual assault.
"I am a survivor of sexual assault, rape and incest," she writes. "The summer of 1984 was tough for me. I experienced two rapes by an adult and systematic molestation from another adult, who also had another man in the room watching (I now understand this was to ensure he had a witness, in order to undermine me in the event I tried to report the incident). ... This January, I read three different things that freshly triggered an additional, very specific memory from age 15 -- an attempted oral rape by yet another adult man."
After Judd says that she began to heal with the help of therapy, she received a particularly vulgar tweet that led her to research what legal actions to take against gender-based violence on Twitter.
"Supported by friends and a brilliant psychologist, my therapy was astonishing, as all such healing work is," she recalls. "I felt like I had the chance to finally speak, fight and grieve, and be consoled and comforted. But then, on literally the very next day, I received a disturbing tweet with a close-up photograph of my face behind text that read, 'I can't wait to cum all over your face and in your mouth.'"
"The timing was canny, and I knew it was a crime. It was time to call the police, and to say to the Twittersphere, no more," she recalls.
To make matters worse, these these types of disturbing tweets aren't the exception -- Judd says she deals with them on a regular basis.
"I routinely cope with tweets that sexualize, objectify, insult, degrade and even physically threaten me," she writes. " ... But this particular tsunami of gender-based violence and misogyny flooding my Twitter feed [on Sunday] was overwhelming. Tweets rolled in, calling me a c**t, a whore or a b**ch, or telling me to suck a two-inch d*ck. Some even threatened rape, or 'anal anal anal.'"
Now, she is using this incident to stand up for other women who also deal with this type of harassment.
"What happened to me is the devastating social norm experienced by millions of girls and women on the Internet," she adds. "Online harassers use the slightest excuse (or no excuse at all) to dismember our personhood. My tweet was simply the convenient delivery system for a rage toward women that lurks perpetually."
She closed her essay with a plea for others to continue to speak out against abuse.
"So for now, I am handing it back over to those of you who are unafraid to speak out against abuse like I have faced, and those of you who are righteous allies and intervening bystanders," she writes. "You're on it. Keep at it -- on the Internet, at home, at work and in your hearts, where the courage to tackle this may fundamentally lie. We have much to discuss, and much action to take. Join me."
And despite her negative Twitter experiences, Judd continues to be active on the social media platform and even tweeted about her passionate essay on Thursday.
"I published my #onlinegenderviolence essay w/ http://mic.com because millennials will solve this problem," she posted. " .... Who else has had enough? What will you do?"