Laura Dern recalls being sexually assaulted at age 14

PHOTO: Laura Dern on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show."Michael Rozman/Warner Bros.
Laura Dern on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show."

Laura Dern always thought she was one of the "lucky ones," until she heard Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Lawrence and others talk about their experiences with sexual assault and abuse in Hollywood, she said on Wednesday.

The daughter of actors Bruce Dern and Diane Ladd, Dern, 50, told Ellen DeGeneres Show_" target="_blank">the "Ellen DeGeneres Show" that after attending ELLE's Women in Hollywood event in Beverly Hills Monday, she had a realization.

"It was an extraordinary experience, perhaps more than ever, to have this shared space and a tribe of women and artists talking about this industry, and ultimately therefore talking about sexual harassment in the workplace. And a very interesting thing happened this morning," Dern told host Ellen DeGeneres.

"I woke up and I realized that in that space I talked about how I was one of the lucky ones because I was raised by actors who told me their stories and told me what to look out for, and I realized that I was I still justifying behavior," she continued. "And it was my mom who said, 'No, no, no, Laura -- that was sexual assault. That was harassment. That was assault. No, you were 14 then.'"

Dern explained that until then she hadn't thought of those experiences as harassment or assault.

"You realize how in our culture we have justified, and therefore even condoned behavior, as though it's the norm," she said.

While she did not go into detail about her personal history with abuse, she commended her peers for speaking out at the ELLE event. "I felt very moved by people being honest and direct," she said.

"There was no one there who didn't say they'd had the experience," she added. "The most exciting part is in moving forward, we talked about the forming of a commission, which Kathy (Kathleen) Kennedy presented." she said.

Dern said the idea is to create an environment where women can reach out, even anonymously, to say, "There is an abuse of power here and something is not OK."

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