Evan Rachel Wood fights for justice in her powerful #MeToo documentary, Phoenix Rising
Written by Amy Beecham
Following allegations of emotional, physical, and sexual abuse against Marilyn Manson, HBO’s Phoenix Rising documentary explores Evan Rachel Wood’s fight for domestic violence justice.
As part of Hollywood’s #MeToo movement, the actions of many of the industry’s most prominent figures were called into question. While allegations from sexual misconduct to emotional abuse were made against powerful men, the women behind them struggled to have their claims believed, and their abusers brought to justice.
Going behind some of the most shocking headlines, HBO’s two part documentary, Phoenix Rising, sees actor and activist Evan Rachel Wood as she takes her alleged experience as a survivor of emotional, physical, and sexual abuse by her long-time partner, rock star Marilyn Manson.
Exploring the often-misunderstood aspects of domestic abuse, the film sheds light not only on Wood’s own experiences, but the many factors that prevent survivors from coming forward with their stories as they deal with years of aftershocks and emotional trauma.
“This is the first time I haven’t been doubted, or questioned, or shamed,” Wood shares tearfully in the documentary’s trailer. “It’s the first time that someone was really listening.”
The two minute preview sees Wood’s family describe how Manson, aka Brian Warner, “studied how to manipulate people and ruined her.”
“He’s a predator,” Wood’s mother, Sara, tells the camera, before her brother adds: “Everyone was looking at Marilyn Manson, and they weren’t watching Brian Warner.”
Elsewhere in the trailer, Wood shares photos of her bruised body and describes meeting other alleged victims of Manson’s abuse.
“Numerous women heard my story and they knew exactly who it was,” she shares. “I realised then that I wasn’t the only one this had happened to.”
The film, which premiered at Sundance Festival, is already being hailed for opening up the conversation about coercive control and domestic violence.
“From a fellow survivor, THANK YOU. Such a huge wave of relief when I witness others who have survived abuse get heard and believed. It’s healing for all of us. May this show be another step towards justice,” read just one of the hundreds of comments beneath the documentary’s trailer.
While Wood named Warner (aka Manson) as her abuser in February 2021, he denies abusing Wood or any other person—and to date, no charges have been filed.
But despite a lack of personal justice, almost a decade after escaping what Wood called a ‘dangerous relationship,’ she co-authored and successfully lobbied for passage of The Phoenix Act, legislation that extends the statute of limitations for domestic violence cases in California.
Describing how she “ran out of time” to officially report her abuse, Wood’s activism ensured that victims of abuse would have more time to come forward. In the UK, the law is also changing to allow domestic abuse victims longer to report a crime.
Part 1, Phoenix Rising: Don’t Fall will premiere on 15 March, with Part 2, Phoenix Rising: Stand Up premiering 16 March. Both installments will be available for streaming on HBO Max beginning 15 March.
In the UK, the domestic violence helpline is 0808 2000 247. Alternatively, contact Women’s Aid or Refuge for advice and support.
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