Angelina Jolie is continuing to fight the social stigma faced by sexual assault survivors, and in a new interview with Marie Claire, she opens up about how she broaches the subject with her children.
The Oscar-winning actress has six kids with estranged husband Brad Pitt – Maddox, 16, Pax, 14, Zahara, 13, Shiloh, 12, and 10-year-old twins Vivienne and Knox. Jolie explains that she includes all of her children in the conversation about sexual violence.
“I don’t just speak to my daughters. I speak to them with their brothers,” she reveals. “That is maybe the first most important distinction. This is not just a problem for women, and the solution is working with women and men. And girls and boys.”
“Not only are men and boys also victims of these crimes, but those who are perpetrating these crimes need to have other men remind them what it really is to be a man. A man with a healthy relationship to women. And all societies need to be clear about not tolerating this behavior.”
Jolie, special envoy of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, launched the Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict initiative with former UK Foreign Secretary, William Hague, in 2012, but she still says more work needs to be done to shake the stigma.
“Sexual violence in conflict is still a taboo subject,” she says. “Female and male survivors, and children born of this rape, are often treated as if they are the ones who have done something wrong. They are rejected and stigmatized, while their attackers go unpunished. That’s what has to change, and breaking the taboo is part of that.”
In November, the “Maleficent” star visited the PSVI Film Festival – Fighting Stigma through Film reception at the British Film Institute, an event which helped raise awareness about sexual violence.
“I do think film has the power to make us live inside another person’s experience in a way that is unique and different,” Jolie tells Marie Claire. “But it is also a really important way of opening up a conversation, and saying that yes, these things happen or happened in our country and we need to address them.”
“Too often after a war, sexual violence is the subject no one wants to talk about, that gets swept under the carpet. And if no one talks about it, there is no justice and no healing and no closure.”
You can read the full interview at MarieClaire.com.