Mena Suvari says being raped aged 12 ‘sucked the life out of me’

Mena Suvari has described how being sexually abused as a child made her feel a “loss of sense of self”.

The American Beauty star revealed that she was raped at age 12 by one of her older brother’s 16-year-old friends in her 2021 memoir, The Great Peace.

In a new interview, Suvari, 43, opened up about her experience, which she said “sucked the life out of me”.

In her book, Suvari wrote that she “spent almost my entire life feeling disgusted, ashamed, and in denial about what happened to me”.

She detailed how the rape led to more abusive relationships with older men and a drug addiction to cope with the traumatic experiences.

Speaking to The Guardian in an interview published on Wednesday (27 July), Suvari said she had always “struggled to be seen and heard” as the youngest of four children.

“But I didn’t feel such a loss of sense of self until I was 12. When I was raped,” she said.

She said that, after she was sexually abused, her brother’s friend told his classmates that she was a “whore”.

“That sucked the life out of me,” Suvari said. “I think that was just excessive confirmation that no one was going to save me, no one was going to do anything for me.”

She also revealed in her memoir how she developed a bladder infection due to the rapes, but her doctor prescribed her contraception instead of investigating what had happened.

Asked what the adults in her life were thinking, she responded: “I feel like we would have to talk forever about that.”

Mena Suvari (Hachette Books)
Mena Suvari (Hachette Books)

Elsewhere in her memoir, Suvari detailed the substances she turned to in order to “numb myself from the pain”.

“Alcohol. Pot. Coke. Crystal meth. Acid. Ecstasy. Mushrooms. Mescaline. It was my way of detaching from the hell of my existence – and surviving,” she wrote.

Suvari married prop master Michael Hope in 2018 and shares a one-year-old son with him. She is set to play Ronald Reagan’s first wife, Jane Wyman, in a forthcoming biopic about the former US president alongside Dennis Quaid.

If you have been raped or sexually assaulted, you can contact your nearest Rape Crisis organisation for specialist, independent and confidential support. For more information, visit their website here.

If you’re worried about a child, even if you’re unsure, you can contact professional counsellors at the NSPCC for help, advice and support by emailing or calling 0808 800 5000. For those aged 18 or under, Childline offers free, confidential advice and support whatever your concern and whenever you need help. Call 0800 1111 or Contact Childline.