Evan Rachel Wood says she was 'too scared' to name Marilyn Manson as her abuser: 'It was made very clear to me that there would be retaliation'

·3-min read

Following its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year, Evan Rachel Wood's two-part documentary, Phoenix Rising, comes to HBO on Mar. 16. Ahead of the film's debut, the actress appeared on Good Morning America to explain why "it was time to stop being silent" about the alleged abuse she suffered during her four year relationship with musician Brian Warner, aka Marilyn Manson. "So many survivors live in fear of judgment and retaliation, and mainly live with shame," the Westworld star remarks in the interview. "And I know, because I experienced it."

Wood first publicly named Manson as her abuser in February 2021, and Phoenix Rising depicts the difficult steps that led to that decision. Directed by Amy Berg, the film also traces the disturbing history of their relationship, which began in 2006 when she was 18 years old and Manson was 36. Among the claims Wood makes in Phoenix Rising is that she was "essentially raped" by Manson on the set of 2007 music video, "Heart-Shaped Glasses," after being given absinthe.

Speaking with Good Morning America, Wood says she was "too scared" to tell her story earlier. "It was made very clear to me that there would be retaliation," she explains. "To expose a person in power who is as high profile as he is clearly is a huge undertaking."

Evan Rachel Wood in Phoenix Rising (Photo by Olivia Fougeirol/Courtesy Sundance Institute)
Evan Rachel Wood in Amy Berg's HBO documentary, Phoenix Rising. (Photo: Olivia Fougeirol/Courtesy Sundance Institute)

Manson has since retaliated against Wood via legal channels, filing a defamation suit that accuses her of spreading "a malicious falsehood that has derailed [his] successful music, TV and film career." The singer has also previously called Wood's accusations "horrible distortions of reality" and insisted that "his intimate relationships have always been entirely consensual with like-minded partners."

"From what I can tell, he's alluding to the fact that this was maybe just kinky sex," Wood told Good Morning America in response to Manson's statements. "Brian and I did not have a BDSM relationship. We did not have kinky sex. This is not a sexual preference. That's not what we're talking about here."

"I stand by everything I've said about the abuse allegations," Wood continues. "I don't believe I'm legally allowed to comment on any of [Manson's] allegations, but I am very confident I have the truth on my side."

In addition to Good Morning America, Wood also appeared on The View to discuss the documentary, and described the toll her relationship with Manson took on her.

"He made me forget who I was," she says. "And it's taken me years to remember, and it's taken me years to get back to myself and to even understand what had happened to me. Because I really thought I was the only one, and I didn't find out until much later that not only was I not the only one, but that there was a pattern to his abuse. And that means it's calculated and that means he's not going to stop until he's stopped. This isn't someone shooting blindly in the dark — this is planned."

Phoenix Rising premieres Mar. 15 on HBO