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Ashley Judd is opening up about meeting with her rapist in order to have a "restorative-justice conversation" years later.
On Tuesday's episode of the Healing with David Kessler podcast, the 54-year-old actress said she was raped in 1999 and, years later, "tried to find" her rapist — who "surfaced very easily" during her search.
"To make a long story short, we ended up in rocking chairs sitting by a creek together," she said. "And I said, 'I'm very interested in hearing the story you've carried all these years.' And we had a restorative-justice conversation about that."
"I wanted to share that story because there are many ways of healing from grief, and it's important to remind listeners that I didn't need anything from him and it was just gravy that he made his amends and expressed his deep remorse, because healing from grief is an inside job," Judd added.
During the interview, Kessler explained that people "may not realize" that grief also applies to the fallout of being raped or assaulted: "You lose innocence." Agreeing, Judd added, "One loses safety. I lost a sense of trust," but through recovery she has "regained myself."
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Judd called the 1999 incident "crazy-making" because she "knew better," explaining, "I was very clear, my boundaries were intact. I was already an empowered, adult feminist woman."
"And that this could happen under these circumstances was unconscionable, unforeseen, and yet I have had a restorative-justice process with this person out of how replete my soul is today," she added.
Despite the conversation with her rapist, the Double Jeopardy actress noted that she "didn't need his cooperation," "for him to make amends" or "for him to do anything differently in order for me to have a process that was independent from that previous asymmetry of power."
"Because I had the opportunity to do my trauma work, to do my grief work, to do my healing work, to have all these shifts in my own consciousness and to bond in these female coalition spaces with other survivors," Judd explained.
Mark Kauzlarich/Bloomberg via Getty Ashley Judd
Judd said in 2019 that she is "a three-time rape survivor," and recalled while advocating for abortion rights how one such incident led to a pregnancy.
"I'm very thankful I was able to access safe and legal abortion," she said at the Women in the World summit in New York. "Because the rapist, who is a Kentuckian, as am I, and I reside in Tennessee, has paternity rights in Kentucky and Tennessee. I would've had to co-parent with my rapist."
Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images Ashley Judd
Added Judd, "So having safe access to abortion was personally important to me and, as I said earlier, democracy starts with our skin. We're not supposed to regulate what we choose to do with our insides."
It was unclear at the time whether the rape resulted in a conviction, which would have prevented the attacker from having custody or visitation rights in both Kentucky and Tennessee, according to the National Conference of State Legislature.
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.