When Evan Rachel Wood posted an image on Instagram of her 2010 photoshoot with Elle magazine, you wouldn’t be blamed for initially thinking it was just another celebrity’s nostalgic throwback to a glamorous fashion campaign they had been involved in. Her caption however told of a different story.
Speaking to her 549k followers on Monday, Wood wrote, “The day of this photoshoot, I was so weakened by an abusive relationship. I was emaciated, severely depressed, and could barely stand. I fell into a pool of tears and was sent home for the day. #IAmNotOk”
The image is one in a series of posts in which Wood discloses her experiences with domestic abuse and how she ultimately resorted to self-harm as a means of dealing with it.
Since posting the image, Wood has uploaded four other posts which all contain the hashtag #IAmNotOk, including a video where she details her existing struggle to feel safe and a photo which quickly received a “sensitive content” warning from the social media platform due to its depiction of Wood’s self-harm scars.
The 31-year-old Westworld star’s recent social media posts have done much to launch a movement to raise awareness around domestic violence by encouraging survivors and those affected by abuse to share their stories with the hashtag #IAmNotOk.
Unsurprisingly, the movement has rapidly gained traction with many rallying behind the campaigns advocacy, ‘It’s Ok not to be Ok’.
In the United States, where the campaign began, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner, while 1 in 4 women and 1 in 9 men experience severe intimate partner physical violence, sexual violence, and stalking, resulting in impacts such as post-traumatic stress disorder. In the UK there has been a 90 per cent increase in recorded domestic abuse in the last four years, with an estimated 2.0 million adults aged 16 to 59 years experiencing abuse in the year ending March 2018. Worryingly, new figures recently released showed that 1 in 5 women murdered by current or former partners had contacted police before they died.
Taking to Twitter to share stories, one supporter wrote: “I spent my entire childhood unsafe, suffering at the hands of a twisted, evil terrorist in our own house & wondering if my mom would be alive when I got home from school, Before and after escaping, we were re-victimized by those supposed to help. We need to do better. #IAmNotOkay.”
Another tweeted: “8 years after leaving an abusive relationship, I still can’t date. I’m terrified that the insecurities that brought an abuser into my life will bring another. I don’t know when I’ll be able to trust someone enough to actually be in a relationship again. #IAmNotOK”
Celebrities too, have waded in. Game of Thrones actress Esme Bianco revealed an image on Instagram of her back with injuries from being whipped at the hands of an ex-partner. “The injuries you see are real. The whipping that gave me these wounds was filmed in the name of “art”. I used to look at this photo with pride because I thought it was a sign of great devotion to my abuser. Now I look at it with horror,” she said.
Though Wood’s posts, along with others that have followed in the same suit, come at a time when the NSPCC have described the number of self-harm images on Instagram as "unacceptable", other charities such as UK charity Women's Aid have applauded Wood for her bravery and stated often women will turn to self-harm to try to cope with their partners' controlling and abusive behaviour.
A spokesperson for the charity said, “In some cases, women attempt suicide because the abuse makes them feel as though there is no other way out,”
“We hope that Evan Rachel Wood's post will help people understand why "just leaving" is not straightforward, it can be an incredibly dangerous time for survivors and often the abuser's threats and intimidation means that the survivor is living in constant fear and is too terrified to leave.”
#IAmNotOk has not only shone a light on pressing facts, but it has also, equally importantly, created a culture through which survivors are urged to speak and others are rightfully made to listen.