“American Beauty” star Mena Suvari told a news outlet she was only 17 when she first fell into an abusive relationship that led to her requiring medical care — but the abuse had started years before.
Suvari was 12 when one of her brother’s friends raped her several times, she told The Guardian in an interview published July 27. The friend reportedly gave her a lot of romantic attention, including writing her love letters and encouraging her into the sexual activity, she said, according to the outlet.
After he raped her, he told people at school that Suvari was a “whore,” and in her shame, Suvari denied all of it ever happened, she continued in the interview. When, at 13 years old, she required medical attention to treat a bladder infection stemming from the abuse, her doctor put her on a form of contraception instead of asking her about the rape, she told The Guardian.
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A modeling agency hired Suvari soon thereafter, requiring her to move to Los Angeles. There, the abuse reportedly persisted. At 15, she was photographed nude by a photographer in his twenties, and at age 16 she started having sex with one of her business advisors who was well into his 30s, the interview continued.
She started using crystal methamphetamine and other drugs around that time, partly to cope with abuse and to deal with her family life, she described. Suvari met a lighting engineer and fell into an abusive relationship, she claims. The man would tell her she was stupid and call her names, making her feel trapped, and yet she craved his affection, The Guardian interview continued.
Suvari’s memoir details her being made to use sex toys that led to her needing medical attention for repeated anal sex, the outlet continued. “I was not being loved. I was just a body, a receptacle for his desires,” she writes in her book.
The lighting engineer reportedly asked Suvari to pick up other women so they could have threesomes, some of whom she met on set, she continued. After she became famous, she spotted one of those women in a supermarket and approached her, Suvari told The Guardian.
“I said, ‘I want you to know that I never wanted to do any of those things’. She was surprised. She said, ‘Oh, he told me you wanted to do that’. It was a huge eye-opener for me, how I was being manipulated and I had no idea. The circumstances had been created for me, and I was just swallowed up by it,” Suvari said, according to the outlet.
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The experiences damaged the way Suvari could discover herself sexually, the outlet continued. They also helped her identify with her character, Angela, in the critically acclaimed film “American Beauty,” which tells the story of Kevin Spacey’s character developing an obsession with his daughter’s friend, portrayed by Suvari, she told the outlet.
“I knew how to play that role, because I was so schooled in it. ‘Oh, you want me to be sexually attractive?’ Done. I felt unavailable in a million other ways, but I knew how to play that card,” she explained to The Guardian. After filming, Suvari returned home to her abusive relationship, she continued.
Years later, after the abuse claims against Spacey came to light, Suvari detailed her own “weird and unusual” experience on set with him. (RELATED: Marvel Star, Husband Convicted Of Sex With 13-Year-Old Girl)
She eventually escaped the relationship, and went on to have a successful entertainment career. She met the man who would become her husband and the father of their now-1-year-old son in 2016, People reported.