Jane Fonda Shares her Past of Sexual Abuse with Brie Larson

In an intimate interview between Brie Larson and Jane Fonda for Net-a-Porter’s The Edit magazine, the 79-year-old actress and advocate spoke out on the issue of sexual abuse.

“I’ve been raped, I’ve been sexually abused as a child and I’ve been fired because I wouldn’t sleep with my boss and I always thought it was my fault; that I didn’t do or say the right thing,” she told Larson. “I know young girls who’ve been raped and didn’t even know it was rape. They think, ‘It must have been because I said ‘no’ the wrong way.’ One of the great things the women’s movement has done is to make us realize that [rape and abuse is] not our fault. We were violated and it’s not right.”

It was fitting that Larson interviewed Fonda, as she has long been an advocate for sexual abuse victims. While prepping for her role in 2015’s Room, which followed the story of a woman who was kidnapped, locked up and sexually abused for seven years, Larson spent time with abuse victims to learn their stories. More recently, she has been in the news for her lack of enthusiasm regarding Casey Affleck’s Oscar and Golden Globes wins. (A 2010 lawsuit by two women alleged that they were sexually harassed by Affleck. The suit was settled out of court.)

Fonda has had a long career of political activism, including protesting the Vietnam War (during which time she earned the name “Hanoi Jane” for posing with North Vietnam soldiers) and recently advocating for the Indigenous Peoples at Standing Rock and women’s rights during the Women’s March.

The two-time Academy Award winner told Larson not to be discouraged by media backlash. “It means you’re having an effect,” said Fonda. “People want to silence you. If it didn’t matter, no one would bother saying, ‘Shut up.'”

On the subject of how to avoid getting taken advantage of, the Barbarella star wasn’t afraid to admit that didn’t always have it figured out. She answered: “Unlike you, Brie, it took me 60 years to learn how to say no. If anyone offered me anything I would say yes. I took parts I wasn’t right for and I was taken advantage of. I didn’t know how to stand up for myself. Now, I would say, ‘No. This is a piece of s***. I don’t like the way you’re treating me,’ and leave. If only I knew then what I do now.”