Mena Suvari has revealed she was ‘a victim of repeat sexual abuse’, beginning with being raped at the age of 12.
The actress shot to fame at the age of 20 when she starred in American Pie and American Beauty, receiving a Bafta nomination for best actress in a supporting role for the latter.
However, while it may have looked like she was living the dream, Mena was ‘living a double life’, struggling with drug use after being sexually abused between the ages of 12 and 20.
In her new memoir, The Great Peace: A Memoir – which has been serialised by People – Mena tells of how she was raped by the friend of one of her older brothers a month before she turned 13.
Referring to her attacker as ‘KJ’, the now 42-year-old wrote that he pressured her to have sex with him after her family moved to South Carolina, with Mena telling him: ‘No, I don’t want to do that.’
She said that KJ raped her in a private room at his family’s home, and wrote: ‘Part of me died that day. He used me, had fun with me and then disposed of me. He called me a whore.
‘I never got to have a healthy expression of [sex]. My choice was lost. And that, compiled with already not feeling seen and heard, established a concept that I would have of myself. That that was my value.’
Mena began to blame herself, and when she moved to Hollywood to become an actress at the age of 15, she felt she didn’t have ‘any other options or was worthy of a life that was any different’ when a manager wanted to have a sexual relationship with her.
The star turned to ‘any form of self-medicating I could find, just to get by’, and began clubbing and using hard drugs to numb the pain.
When she was 17, Mena began dating a man she refers to as Tyler in her memoir, who she says was emotionally and sexually abusive during their three-year relationship.
Saying her boyfriend pressured her into threesomes, the actress said: ‘I remember thinking maybe this is how relationships are: the screaming, the name calling, the abuse. I felt like I had brought it all on in some way. From KJ to Tyler, it was a process of destruction.’
At the age of 20, Mena hit the big time in Hollywood and with the help of therapy and her friend group, she broke up with Tyler and was able to stop using drugs.
Mena went on to star as Heather in two more American Pie movies and films including Factory Girl, Stuck and Loser, as well as landing roles in Six Feet Under and American Horror Story: Murder House and Apocalypse.
Most recently, the star has begun filming the biopic Reagan, playing the President’s first wife Jane Wyman opposite Dennis Quaid’s Ronald Reagan.
Earlier this year, Mena welcomed her first child, a son named Christopher, with her husband of three years Michael Hope, and called their baby ‘the greatest, most precious gift’.
Mena was previously married to cinematographer Robert Brinkmann from 2000 until 2005, and concert promoter Simone Sestito from 2010 until 2012.
The Great Peace: A Memoir is out on July 27.
Victim Support offers support to survivors of rape and sexual abuse. You can contact them on 0333 300 6389.