Frazer Harrison/Getty Alyssa Milano
Alyssa Milano is reflecting on her first experience with childbirth and how it brought up flashbacks of sexual assault in the moment.
The actress and Sorry Not Sorry author appears on this week's episode of PEOPLE's new podcast Me Becoming Mom, at one point looking back on giving birth to son Milo Thomas, now 10, and identifying why the "invasive" experience triggered her.
"I remembered at one point [during childbirth] really not enjoying the fact that lots of people had access to my vagina," Milano, 48, tells host Zoë Ruderman, Head of Digital at PEOPLE. "And thinking to myself, 'Why does— I don't like this. Why does it feel so familiar? I've never had a baby before. Why does this invasive feeling feel so familiar?' That was just a fleeting moment, a tick in time, but I didn't forget about it."
"After going through therapy after giving birth to Milo and remembering that one moment of feeling like I was being held down and had things being done to me that I didn't want, to me, was very reminiscent of being sexually assaulted," she says. "It triggered all of these memories that I thought I had dealt with. I think anyone who has dealt with trauma has the moments where you're like, 'Yeah, I'm fine. I've dealt with that.' Versus the moments where you go, 'Oh, no I didn't. I just tried to tuck it away so no one could see them or I couldn't see them or feel them anymore.' "
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"That's what it felt like for me," she adds. "I gotta think that because it felt that way for me, it must've felt that way for other women. I wonder how much of my postpartum anxiety was due to — of course, hormones and all of the things — but also that feeling that felt like I wasn't in control, you know?"
Back in 2018, Milano was one of several celebrities who spoke out about surviving sexual assault using the hashtag #WhyIDidntReport on social media to protest then-President Donald Trump. She wrote on Twitter, "I was sexually assaulted twice. Once when I was a teenager. I never filed a police report and it took me 30 years to tell my parents."
Weeks later, the actress recounted her experience with sexual assault during an emotional speech at Sen. Susan Collins' office. Milano recalled that while at a concert as a 19-year-old, there was a stampede with people "smashed against each other" to the point she "couldn't breathe; I thought I was gonna die."
"From behind me, I felt a hand up my skirt and I was punched repeatedly in the vagina," she explained at the time. "I couldn't turn around. I looked to the stage, and I looked to the security guards, and I said, 'Please help me' and they couldn't help me. They shook their heads. I managed to break free and I climbed up the stage to get away from my predator. I turned around and I didn't know which one it was. I looked to the sea of people and I couldn't find him."
If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, please contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673) or go to rainn.org.