April 7, 2022
For our 2-year anniversary episode, Jameela is joined by actor and activist Evan Rachel Wood. They discuss her work with The Phoenix Act and making actual legislative change for domestic abuse survivors, the different ways domestic abuse can happen and how it affects the survivor, her own experiences and journey towards healing, how becoming a mother helped her grow, the joy and freedom one can find in autonomy, and more.
Watch Evan’s docuseries Phoenix Rising on HBO Max.
You can follow Evan Rachel Wood on Instagram @evanrachelwood
You can find transcripts for this episode here: https://www.earwolf.com/show/i-weigh-with-jameela-jamil/
I Weigh has amazing merch – check it out at podswag.com
105 — Evan Rachel Wood
Jameela [00:00:00] Hello and welcome to another episode of I Weigh with Jameela Jamil, a podcast that really hopes to just kick shame right in the dick. Now I really hope you’re ready because today’s episode is so powerful. It’s so powerful that after I have this chat this week, I couldn’t go to sleep afterwards because I couldn’t stop thinking about it. So maybe it’s not a late night lesson because you might be too inspired and just jacked up on adrenaline and hope to fall asleep. She ugh God, it’s Evan Rachel Wood. Evan Rachel Wood is my guest. She’s not only a phenomenal talent in our generation, an actor of some of the best projects that I’ve ever seen. But she’s one of the most unbelievable human beings that I’ve had the privilege of chatting to. What this young woman has been through from such an early age and what she has turned that into in order to protect and give hope to people in the future that they don’t have to go through what she has gone through. My good God. May we all be lucky enough to know an Evan Rachel Wood in our lives, never mind be one. This is a really special episode. It’s not an easy lesson. If you are someone who still struggles with hearing anything about violence and domestic violence. I want to offer that trigger warning and also offer you my deepest condolences and all of my love. Maybe this isn’t the right time for you to listen to that, but if you do feel ready, this is a very, very hopeful and beautiful episode. We we don’t touch too perfectly on our own experiences. Some of you may know that Evan came out publicly speaking about experience in a relationship with Marilyn Manson as the artist name that you might be more familiar with than his real name. And she came out publicly discussing the domestic violence that she faced. Other victims have also come forward since then to discuss similar violence that they faced at the hands of this same person. And Evan has taken all of this pain, and my god, the brave acts of coming out against the very, very powerful man in this industry. She’s taken all of that and used it to alter legislation in the United States and start discussing legislation worldwide as well and raising awareness about the nuances of the system, how much the system fails, victims of domestic abuse and violence and and all of these things like coercive abuse and coercive control, even in this episode. She teaches me so much about things that I’ve never been able to place a word for the meaning on. It’s just so educative, and she’s so knowledgeable as she really understands the layers of what she’s talking about. She understands the hierarchy and the statistics that show that it is far more prevalent domestic violence in communities of color. There are so many things that she can just illuminate you on and help you learn how to not only perhaps find your way through this if this is something that you are going through, but also maybe how to support others because it’s hard to know what to do in these situations. And so we touch on all of these things. We touch on the meaningful work that she’s doing. We discuss her new documentary Phoenix Rising, which discusses her legislative achievements with the Phoenix Act, and we talk about life after abuse, the recovery process. And she’s now a happy mum in a loving relationship who doesn’t claim to be perfectly recovered, but speaks very candidly about that journey from a very young age, witnessing domestic abuse to then living it herself and then going on to behave badly in future relationships herself and mimic bad behavior she’d learned from abusers and how she’s kind of unpeeled and unpicked all of that to become the best version of herself, the strongest version of herself she can be so that her kids grow up with the role models she wants to be and the role model she needed when she was young. It’s super candid, its really fucking beautiful, she’s so smart and cool. I’m I don’t know if I’m ever going to stop thinking about this episode. I really hope you enjoy it. I would love to hear your thoughts, and I sit here deeply humbled by her amazing work. This is the incredible. Evan Rachel Wood. Evan, Bloody, Rachel Wood. Welcome to I Weigh. How are you?
Evan [00:04:51] I’m good. Long time no see.
Jameela [00:04:53] OK, so how what year did I first interview you?
Evan [00:04:59] I want to say 2011, late 2011, early 2012. I feel like it’s about 10 years ago.
Jameela [00:05:08] Yeah, yeah. And that was the last time I think we saw each other, right? No, we’ve seen we’ve like grazed each other.
Evan [00:05:14] Yeah, yeah. Brushed shoulders.
Jameela [00:05:15] Yeah grazed each other. But I interviewed you when we were both like, I was especially new because you’ve been doing this longer than I have. But but we were both very young and I remember immediately just sort of falling madly in love with you and just thinking, I wish I could be your friend, but I was a journalist and you were a really famous like a world famous actress. And that’s just never not a creepy dynamic. So I just thought I’d be alone
Evan [00:05:42] I totally fell in love with you too, though. I remember very vividly.
Jameela [00:05:48] Well I truly only became an actor so that I could then have a podcast so that I could then find a way to interview you.
Evan [00:05:55] We all want to act so we have a podcast.
Jameela [00:05:58] Yeah, exactly. So it’s all just been a road to you. But it’s nice to have you back here now that we’re, you know, we’re proper women now we’re all grown up.
Evan [00:06:07] It does feel like that in some ways
Jameela [00:06:09] we’ve been through a lot. You especially and I’m so grateful to have you because I know that you already have so much on your plate, not only with your own career, but everything you’ve been doing and advocacy. And I know that takes a lot out of you, and this is an incredibly sensitive subject for so many people and for you to come on and be so generous with your time, with your story means the whole world to me. And I’m sure everyone listening. I’ve been truly waiting to cover this subject only with you for as long as I had to wait because I’m I’m so inspired. You’re one of the people who inspires me most in the world, honestly. And so I’m yeah, I’m swallowing now because I’m yeah, I’m nervous. How’s your how’s your mental health been like lately?
Evan [00:07:00] Lately? You know I. I’ve had 16 years. On this road of recovering from my past relationship and and that sort of havoc that it reached on my psyche and spirit. So I waited to come forward when I knew that I would be able to handle it mentally, spiritually, physically, all of it. And so I, I, I felt ready, but I still I think I thought that I could outthink my emotions. It’s one of my favorite things to do is over intellectualize my my feelings to see if I can weasel my way out of feeling them. And no, no, it never works out. And I I did have a, you know, a moment after being able to finally speak about things publicly where it all really hit me and I had to have a moment where I just, you know, couldn’t breathe, but I have been through enough at this point in my life that now I have the tools for what I’m confronted with moments like that. I know what to do and and I know how to get myself back on track. I know what friends to reach out to. I know how to regulate my breathing and come back into my body. And but, you know, those were skills that took a few years to sort of cultivate and and get to a place where, you know, I wouldn’t just kind of spin out and and hide and just burrough myself away and try to escape.
Jameela [00:08:43] Considering everything you’ve done regarding public advocacy in the years leading up to the pandemic was the pandemic for you a kind of respite for your brain? Or was it the opposite because then you’ve just achieved so much in 2019 for victims of domestic violence and then suddenly you’re left in your house?
Evan [00:09:06] It was a weird sequence of events. It was doing the Phoenix Act, I think was the most challenging mental health wise because that’s when you’re taking
Jameela [00:09:16] Will you sorry. Will you explain exactly what the Phoenix act for our listeners.
Evan [00:09:21] Yes of course. So that Phoenix Act is a piece of legislation that I helped co-create, which gives survivors of abuse more time to report a crime? And I think for some people, when they initially hear that, they think, why do you need a bunch of time to report a crime? I mean, clearly, you know, when something bad happens, it shouldn’t take you that long to report. But. I think what we’re starting to begin to understand is there’s many reasons why it would take somebody years, sometimes a lifetime, to be able to not only confront the abuse process, what happened, understand it, but also feel safe enough and ready enough to to take on, you know, at a in an investigation or exposing somebody publicly. It’s it’s it’s a lot. And so the Phoenix Act sort of is there to create more of a cushion for survivors that need more time to report and specifically is. I mean, for me, specifically important, I think, to stop serial abusers because in cases like Weinstein and Cosby and R. Kelly, we think, you know, how how how does this go on that long? How are there so many victims? And a lot of times because of the statute of limitations and a lot of perpetrators have gotten very skilled at getting that statute of limitations to run out, you know, scaring somebody long enough, intimidating somebody long enough until that the clock runs out and they know that you can’t do anything. And so certain people have found loopholes to the these laws, and so Phoenix Act is there to strengthen it.
Jameela [00:11:10] It’s amazing, and I think a lot of people don’t understand what those who suffered from abuse, but you know you were talking about safety is that if you have been abused by someone, maybe you need to. Maybe your life is in danger and you need to move to another state or country, or you need to change your fucking name in case they follow you or try to find you, especially if you’re going to press charges against them. You want to feel safe and protected. A lot of people, that’s not possible for a while at least, not to mention all the trauma they have to process. And then also how fucking grueling it must be. You know, I’ve not been in the system before like that. How grueling it must be to have to recount everything to strangers who then treat you with a fair amount of suspicion because you’re making a big accusation against someone. And then the chances are you’re going to be gaslit and you may be countersued by the person who yeah exactly you’re nodding. Because I know, I do know that also happened to you. But like, you know, you’re going to be maybe legally attacked by the person that you accusing. There’s so much going on and it’s not cheap by any stretch of the imagination. These things. And so in order to be ready for that, you definitely need your time. I definitely grew up surrounded by a lot of domestic violence within my like family and extended family. And so I can just I’ve watched countless specifically women not report what happened to them because they were afraid and also leads to South Asian women who come from a culture that will just disown you if you leave your family. And so I think the work you’ve done is just really like on a very personal level. It means a lot to me.
Evan [00:12:49] Good. I’m glad. Yeah, there’s I mean, as you’re saying, there’s a domestic violence can affect different communities in different ways, and that’s something I learned during the Phoenix Act and seeing how it could affect people differently. I’m sure there’s a lot of, you know, communities that the police are very scary and it’s not really in their they don’t feel like it’s in their best interest to call the police or to report, you know, somebody could come to their house and they’re worried about getting shot. You know, there’s a lot of a lot of factors that come into play and and there’s this misconception of what we see in the movies or whatever that, you know, you call the cops that come and they take the bad guy away. And it’s just very rarely the case. It’s a very long, grueling process after being involved in a in a large investigation like the one I’m involved in now. I really started to understand why people pull out of investigations and why victims recount their statements and why they go forward and then pull back because. Man, it’s no joke having to go through the things that have happened to you in excruciating detail, questions you’ve never been asked and I have to go back there over and over and over again to be publicly gaslit, you know, on a large scale or even a small scale. It’s it’s very, very retraumatizing. I mean, I sit here knowing I’m not lying, knowing I’m telling the truth. But people make you feel crazy. And so I have to sit there and meditate and go through the things that have happened to me and go, Did this happen to you? Yes. Did this happen? Yes. Did this happen? Yes. And I go through the details and I replay them in my head just so nobody can take my truth away from me because they try. They really, really try to break you down so.
Jameela [00:14:34] It’s it’s an interesting one as well, because you and I, when we spoke on the phone, we’re talking about the fact that, of course, you have access to certain privileges and the fact that you have somewhere to go afterwards and you were able to, you know, find safety and also like aftercare. But what’s extremely unique about your situation and I think, you know, is only a handful of people in the world who can maybe relate is that you weren’t just being gaslit by the person that you were accusing or, you know, maybe even people within the system because it was public what you were doing. We all watched you get just so fucking gaslit by the media, which is such an unusual thing to go through. And there’s no there’s no handbook for how one deals with at such a young age. Were you taught to because I feel like that’s when we first started reconnecting, as when I started talking about media gaslighting and the abusive way that we talk about women who put their head above the parapet and speak back against patriarchy. We decide to take them or make an example out of them to like to drag them across the coals, to not just teach them a lesson, but also kind of try and signal to other specifically, women don’t speak up because this is what you’re signing up for. It’s a really scary thing to be used as a direct threat, not just to yourself, but to all women everywhere. Can you talk to me a bit about what your experience was when this whole thing came to light?
Evan [00:16:02] In my experience, the greatest defense there is against women specifically that come forward or speak up about any sort of injustice against them is to say that they’re crazy. It just, I mean, it’s a tale as old as time. I mean, it’s historical like and it still goes on today and it just takes different forms. And it was just. I social media for me is a clearly a double edged sword for a number of reasons, but I did. I could notice the trends and the patterns very clearly on something like Twitter, because you can you start to see the through line and I could just see this through of whenever I spoke up about something that it was taken and twisted and to make me sound unhinged and crazy and angry, specifically.
Jameela [00:17:02] Hysterical.
Evan [00:17:02] Hysterical because if a woman is angry, then clearly we shouldn’t listen to her because she’s out of control and overly emotional. And, you know, but it’s also there’s a term for that. It’s called reactive abuse, and it’s when you purposely push somebody to the point where they react strongly against the, you know, the injustice or against the abuse or against the violation. And they if they aren’t prepared to have a big reaction and then you can go, Oh my God, look at look at how they’re reacting, like how crazy they are. All I said was that they didn’t look at them, you know, and it’s it’s it’s it’s part of the manipulation, and it’s
Jameela [00:17:45] I’ve never heard that fucking term before.
Evan [00:17:46] Reactive abuse. Yeah, yeah. You get somebody to give you a big reaction so that you can say that they’re not trustworthy.
Jameela [00:17:55] Oh fuck. Fuck!
Evan [00:17:55] Yeah. But we do it a lot with women and on you know other, I mean, it’s a whole other topic about society at large but
Jameela [00:18:01] I know, but I’ve really only just found meds. So that’s really annoying. Now I just, you know, when it’s happening, I just take some meds. But you know, I didn’t have I didn’t have meds until like two years ago. I’m such an easy mark because I’m so like open and oh fuck, oh shit. The amount of times, the idea that it’s happened deliberately, honestly, like just turned my stomach. That is crazy.
Evan [00:18:30] It’s like a covert tech. You know, people that have come up against covert narcissists know it really well because cverts are
Jameela [00:18:39] so ok, explain what that is, because I don’t know
Evan [00:18:41] Ok so a narcissistic kind of personality. Normally, the traits are somebody that are very grandiose. They have like, you know, they think very highly of themselves. Their egos are very large and they and they flaunt it. They’re like the center of attention. Now a covert narcissist really can come across quite shy and quite quite reserved and very calm. But they are doing a lot of the things
Jameela [00:19:04] What if they pretend to be shy and all this kind of different shit you knw what I mean. They pretend to be withdrawn and private, but
Evan [00:19:10] it’s false modesty. And but really, they still think that they are the center of of of the world and cannot put themselves in other people’s shoes. You know, aren’t accountable to their behavior. Have selective memory. Will ignore you. Will, you know, do all these things that are nonviolent physically but emotionally are quite violent.
Jameela [00:19:33] Kind of hot and cold and
Evan [00:19:35] push pull and really the silent treatment, you know, just just telling you that you just don’t matter. You know, not giving you anything.
Jameela [00:19:44] I don’t even really want to say his name because I just don’t think you ever need to hear his name again, other than when you obviously have to but, this person specifically dated people quite a lot younger than him, which makes that push and pull technique easier to impact someone else. Because when you have someone maybe who’s a bit older a bit wiser, a bit more of the world, they can recognize that, Oh, you know what? Actually, this is really toxic. Whereas younger people and I remember this, you know, from my own youth just being like, if someone pulled away from me, my natural instinct, especially because of my childhood, would just be to run towards them. I would. I would. I would panic and I would feel like I need them, and they would have taught me that I needed them. And I would I would always succumb very quickly to the silent treatment, even now, I’m still a little bit susceptible to it. My boyfriend never shuts the fuck up, so and neither do I. But that’s another typical trait is finding someone who might be younger than you are in some way more vulnerable than you.
Evan [00:20:54] Yeah. And that’s normally why. Why they’re targeted, because they are vulnerable. They haven’t had, you know, you can be a very, very smart teenager and precocious and wise beyond your years, but you still have not lived enough life, just experience wise, to be able to defend yourself and spot certain things, which is why the majority of domestic violence crimes happen between the ages of 16 and 24. That’s when you’re most vulnerable, it’s when you’re a child in an adult body. And a lot of people bring up the fact that when I was dating, when I started dating Brian, I was 18. And people go, well, that’s legally an adult, so you know, that’s like her fault.
Jameela [00:21:38] I knew fuck all at 18. I really think I think 30’s the age. I don’t think you’re an adult until you’re 30. If I were president, I would move that age.
Evan [00:21:49] Yeah, I mean, it’s like you’re legally an adult, sure. But you lived no life as an adult. Like, you’ve only lived a life as a child, like you’re just starting your adult life. And so it’s like, sure on a technicality. But at the end of the day, the only reference I have is is a child brain, you know not an adult brain.
Jameela [00:22:06] Yeah, exactly. And he was much older than you are, which immediately puts you on the back foot because then you’re just kind of made to feel like ah silly child. You don’t know that this is normal. This is actually better than most situations. You’re so lucky. All these kind of different, you know, techniques that are utilized. And so I don’t know if this is your situation, but like, there’s so much love bombing at first. So there’s always that Terry Crews quote that goes around in my head, which is like, give her two good weeks and she’ll spend three is chasing that two good weeks.
Evan [00:22:38] Oh yeah, yeah.
Jameela [00:22:38] And that is a horrifying truth that works.
Evan [00:22:44] It’s a push pull dynamic, and it happens in abusive relationships and it actually creates a chemical dependance because it’s it’s you get a rush of oxytocin and then it’s taken away and then a rush of oxytocin is taken away. And so you’re chasing a high, essentially, and it creates a dependency like very similar to being addicted to a drug where you’re chasing that hit, where things are good. And that’s why, you know, another thing that people don’t understand about these dynamics is it’s not it’s not always obvious. And there are good times and there are they do say sweet things and you have fun and then something happens and you’re shocked and and you’re wondering, Oh God, what did I do? What happened today? Like, how can I stop this from ever happening again so I can hold on to the good times? And then your your existence becomes walking on eggshells, which is the phrase which is you’re just trying to avoid that explosion. And of course you can’t. And it will never be enough and there will always be another explosion. But it will always be your responsibility to sort of like, fix it and avoid it. And that’s how your sense of self starts to get eroded because you’re not able to just be you’re not able to relax and just be yourself. You’re having to think about everything that you’re doing and what could possibly set this person off. And that’s how you start to lose who you are, you know, and you just become a, you know, a vessel for this, this person and an a punching bag, essentially.
Jameela [00:24:18] Yeah. And you don’t live a life of action. It’s just a life of reaction.
Evan [00:24:21] Yeah. And anticipation. You know, anticipation.
Jameela [00:24:23] Yeah. And also, you know, and again, you know, I was saying that I grew up in a, you know, a well, experiencing seeing violence. So did you. And so I wonder if you haven’t grown up with parents who had a really volatile marriage in front of you and something that was really interesting, was reading the fact that at one point, your father, I believe, sat you down and said, You know, this is what people do when they love each other very much, which is such I mean, it’s conditioning we’ve all heard before. And.
Evan [00:24:55] Of course.
Jameela [00:24:56] It’s is such dangerous. It’s such a dangerous line of thought. But was there a part of you that when it happened again, when you were older, that feeling of reacting and being on eggshells, did that feel kind of.
Evan [00:25:12] It was familiar.
Jameela [00:25:12] Familiar? Yeah. Uncomfortable and comfortable. Does that make sense?
Evan [00:25:15] Yeah, we unconsciously go towards things that are familiar. And if we haven’t healed these things with our parents, then usually we’ll gravitate towards partners where we can relive the wounds with our parents. And it does. Yeah, it’s it’s it’s familarity and its pathology, and I have so much compassion, more compassion for my parents now, especially that I am a parent and I, you know, I know it’s been hard for them to sort of be exposed in this way and go through this process. But I, I I try to remind them that it’s not about blame, really, but more just accountability and understanding the pathologies of how we get care and the things that are passed on. And you know, it’s it’s important to understand, like the generation my father grew up in. No one talked about anything going to therapy was shameful. You know, there was something wrong with you if you did that, you know, people didn’t get divorced, people didn’t. It was very so many things were swept under the rug.
Jameela [00:26:20] And trapped.
Evan [00:26:21] And you’re trapped. Yeah, you’re trapped. And like, that’s the world that you’re raised in while your brain is forming and you’re becoming a man, you know. And so of course, you’re going to grow up and see your daughter scared and think, Oh, how can I just like make this go away in like the nicest way possible? And I’m, you know, and we weren’t really taught to have real honest conversations with our children about their feelings at that point, it was more just like, everything’s fine. Go to bed like we love each other. And so it’s like, I understand the reasoning, you know, in his brain at that moment. But of course, it’s these these things that we pass on that we don’t mean to, which to me is the most heartbreaking part about being a parent. It’s it’s knowing that there are certain things you are not going to be able to help because this is all you know and you can’t give what you don’t have. And there are people that can spot it and break the cycle, and I can sit here and go, Oh my God, like, of course, I chose somebody that that, you know, felt I was choosing somebody that made me constantly have to prove my love for them and chase them because, like, my dad wasn’t really around. And I have a father wound and, you know, I wanted validation and I wanted love from him that I didn’t get. And so of course, an older man comes around and says, I love you, you’re special and it’s going to hit you right in that wounded place that didn’t get love when you were a kid. And it’s going to feel fucking fantastic in the beginning, you know, but you know that it gets used against you, you know? And so it’s like, it’s that self-awareness that I feel like we have to teach people now to understand. Like if you’re in pain now or if you’re in a relationship where you’re feeling something you know think about the first time you somebody made you feel that way, you know, think about or is this a pattern that I’m repeating? Like, Where has this shown up elsewhere in my life? How did I earn love as a child? How did I lose love as a child? How is this informing my present relationships? This is stuff that I’m super nerdy about, fascinated about.
Jameela [00:28:27] No oh my god, I mean, you literally are in the right place because this is, you know, the kind of the obsession of this podcast. My obsession is understanding my brain, understanding how I’ve arrived at where I am, and then figuring out how to get out.
Evan [00:28:40] Yeah.
Jameela [00:28:41] And I guess that’s it’s a very vulnerable journey that I’m on with lots and lots and lots of people who are also on a similar journey, and we’re all just trying to figure this out. And the reason that I have people like you come on is that, you know, we want the nerds cos the nerds are the people who’ve done the work, so we don’t have to.
Evan [00:28:59] Yes.
Jameela [00:29:00] And so it’s great to learn this stuff. You you blow my balls off like three times already with shit where I’m just like, Oh, that’s what that’s called.
Evan [00:29:07] That’s what that’s called. I know there’s names for these things. It’s terrifying.
Jameela [00:29:11] Yeah, it is terrifying. I have so much more reading to do and so much learning to do.
Evan [00:29:18] We all do.
Jameela [00:29:27] Has, my god, so when did you start learning all of this sort of stuff? Was this like straight afterwards like how how soon after getting out of that violent relationship did you like was what state were you in after that relationship? Did you feel OK because you were in shock? Like, did you? Did you take a huge dip.
Evan [00:29:48] I was so happy to be out that I, I just shoved it all down and just wanted to forget like it had ever happened. Because the last thing you want to do when you’re finally out of a nightmare is to sit there and study and relive it for years, I was like, I just want to go, hang out with my friends, I want to go to Disneyland, I want to dance. I want to do. I want joy again. You know it just.
Jameela [00:30:12] How old were you at this point?
Evan [00:30:13] Twenty three. And I had already, you know, been in a mental health facility and had suicidal attempts, suicide attempts and suicidal thoughts. And so I had I had hit rock bottom and I was starting to rebuild my life again. And so I just wanted laughter. I just wanted joy and I thought I was going to find all my healing. It’s sort of there, and I thought I was going to go to my grave with everything that had happened. And I had also just had not been out long enough to see through all the gaslighting, and manipulation and the grooming that had happened, I think I was still
Jameela [00:30:54] It was just a bad relationship.
Evan [00:30:55] Yeah. And I and I think I had really internalized the things that people had projected onto me of like, well, she’s fucking crazy, like, look at what she’s doing, what’s wrong with her, like all these things. And so I think I internalized that as yeah I guess I was just.
Jameela [00:31:09] We were both fucked up.
Evan [00:31:10] There was something that was really wrong with me. Yeah, like, I just I deserve this. I thought I deserved it. And so I I then took that with me into my next relationship, where I felt completely unworthy. I was lucky to have somebody, you know, take me back after I had been so awful, you know, and and I think I didn’t didn’t realize I had so much work to do until I tried to have another relationship. And I realized that, like I, I intimacy was really hard. Like, I would just close my eyes and and disconnect, you know? And I thought that was odd. And then I was like, Oh, my chronic pain, like all over my body, like, I just felt I felt like 80 years old, and then I would wake up screaming, You know, and I or, you know, I would have this crazy night terrors or, you know, I couldn’t sleep. You know, all these things started to pour into my life. I could go on and on and on. But I also realized that I I had lived in this really toxic way of being and way of having a relationship for so long that I was just falling into the same patterns that I had developed in an abusive situation in which, you know, a lot of it is like just telling people what they want to hear so that you don’t get hurt. And so, you know, suddenly I was trying to be with people that weren’t going to physically harm me. But my brain, you know, is still in the fight or flight mode. It’s still programed to think like, Oh, telling the truth is really dangerous. So just, you know, if they confront you with anything, just like, tell them what you want to hear, be defensive. Like just, you know, make up some story.
Jameela [00:32:56] Thank god you weren’t in an industry that also thrived on perpetuating that, you know, like,
Evan [00:33:01] Exactly.
Jameela [00:33:03] Be a good girl, shut the fuck up. Don’t be difficult if anyone’s creepy with you, don’t say anything just.
Evan [00:33:08] People pleasing.
Jameela [00:33:10] Otherwise, you’ll lose a job. If you don’t, you know you’ll be run out of town.
Evan [00:33:14] Total people pleaser. Yeah. It was just safer that way. And then and you know, and in doing so, I could tell I was really confusing and hurting the people that I loved. And I and I stopped one day and just was like, This isn’t me. I don’t know why I’m doing this. Like, I don’t want to be this person. I’m I’m maybe 24. Probably like a year later. And I just thought, like, I don’t I don’t want to want to be this person because I could I could feel myself starting to repeat things that had been done to me because by people pleasing and telling people when they hear you’re kind of gaslighting them, you know, and like, that’s and this is how the cycle starts, you know? And so I was like, Oh, no, no, no, no, no. Like, I’m not going to do this like, I can’t do this. And so I put myself, I had enough self-awareness and desire to get help that I immediately put myself into therapy to try to undo these unhealthy coping mechanisms and patterns. And then I did the work mainly because I really didn’t want to lose the person that I was with. I was like trying to fix myself so that I could, you know, I could. I could save my marriage essentially. You know, and eventually we ended up separating anyway. But I had started this journey into healing that I continued on after we split up. And, you know, it was a shame that we couldn’t stay together. But I also felt like I don’t know if I would have been able to reach the levels of healing that I did had I stayed married. You know, I was like,
Jameela [00:34:49] because you have to compromise like some sort yourself and so much of your own kind of freedom and you can’t. It’s like I had a complete nervous breakdown at twenty six and was fucking messy as shit, and I would have been too self-conscious to and that’s a shame. And you know, if you were with someone and you feel like you just need to kind of hit that rock bottom and do that, that healing, you can. But it’s definitely easier to do it with a support network, but preferably with space to kind of just, you know, I mean,.
Evan [00:35:23] It’s messy.
Jameela [00:35:24] I didn’t. I don’t think I brush my teeth for like three months, I was like noone should go near me. No one should have let me breathe near them. It was a fucking scummy time. But yeah, I needed to recover after therapy sessions and you get worse sometimes before you get better. I don’t know if that happened to you, but you know all of that stuff. So it’s like a. You know, it’s like your brain is detoxing and all the shit is coming out.
Evan [00:35:49] Yeah, because it’s got to go somewhere and it’s either going to get buried inside of you and fester and then come out in these unhealthy coping mechanisms, whether it’s addiction, whether it’s narcissism, OCD, like, you know, it’s these things that are a lot of times, you know, wounds and unchecked trauma that hasn’t been processed properly, you know, anger, rage, all of these things like, I think, what really surprised me after starting therapy and starting to unpack the things that had happened to me and the trauma was the rage, I didn’t expect to feel that I’ve never been an angry person. It’s probably one of the reasons why I, I, I, I don’t know, like had I don’t want to say, like, I hate this idea that like, Oh, we were a people pleaser. That’s why you got abused. And it’s like, No, but like, it’s also maybe like. Part of my pathology and part of the things that maybe would have kept me in a bad situation for a little too long, it’s not my fault, but it would be an obstacle that I would have to overcome.
Jameela [00:36:56] I don’t think that’s to do with you being a happy person. You being a happy person just makes if you’re a sort of light person, then then people who have a lot of darkness in them, are more drawn to you. And on the darker and unfriendlier I’ve become, the less people are drawn to me and it’s fantastic. But I would say it’s more so the fact that at a young age, I mean, I don’t know. And also it’s not my place to say, but it would be my theory that a young age, if you’re exposed to domestic emotional violence etc, that it’s so hyper normalized that you didn’t flinch the way that someone who hadn’t grown up like that would have upon something really toxic or scary happening. You know, it’s like, and you value yourself when you’re young and being like, I’m strong, I can take it. I was with someone super abusive when I was younger and I there was a part of my brain that I now look back on, I’m just like, oh you stupid girl that was like.
Evan [00:37:56] Innocent girl.
Jameela [00:37:57] Yeah, yeah. No, totally where I was just like, but I thought I was like, I thought, I’d like. I thought a lot of myself for the fact that I could take it as like I can take it because I understand why he’s like this so I’m going to I’m going to help him and I know how to help I’ll guide him through. And I can just, I can take it all on my shoulders. Like, I thought that was something to be so proud of. and I shouldn’t be ashamed of it. But I also like fucking hell the amount of more fun I could have had and like less damage that could have been done.
Evan [00:38:27] I know, I know. I think about my early 20s and I’m like, Oh, that was supposed to be my time. Oh no.
Jameela [00:38:36] Yeah amen. Amen. And so the the mental. It’s so individual for everyone who goes through this. But what was your mental health journey like coming out of that? Like you go through the therapy, you get angry and then how does like how did you climb out of all of that anger and that pain? And like those lost years?
Evan [00:38:59] The anger came after the self-hatred. Honestly, like the first thing was just total and utter self-hatred when I came out of the abusive situation and I could not even look at myself in the mirror without seeing a monster. I mean I had like body dysmorphia, I really couldn’t even look at myself and and and I know it was really upsetting for my partners to watch me go through and, you know, they tried to help me through it. But. You know, I just I was so mean to myself and I had done a lot of therapy and, you know, it wasn’t working and I mean, I guess you have to find what works for you. But the crazy thing is the thing that made my body dysmorphia go away was reiki. I don’t know if anybody listening knows what that is, but it’s it’s energy work. And I really like somebody recommended it to me and I thought, Oh, I don’t know, like. Maybe I’ll try anything at this point, I thought, you know, I didn’t really know what to expect, and I thought, either way, I’ll probably just lay down on a table and get a nap and like, it’s fine. It’ll be like a little massage. And I I was shocked at what they were able to do for me and what I felt during the session and like how weepy I got and how great all that felt. And then I swear to God, I it’s just not come back. It’s like they they rewired my energy or cleared something or did something or it’s placebo. I don’t know. But whatever it is, it worked. And and I and I haven’t had the same kind of issues. I mean, you know, granted, like we all have days where like, I’m just not feeling myself today. And that’s very normal. Like, there’s you know, you’re never going to just be like, totally happy with yourself all the time, I feel like. But but it wasn’t at the level that it was where it was like it was. It would make me cry just to look at myself in the mirror. Like, I mean that and that that’s so sad to me. So then, yeah, it was like self-hatred. And then I had to get past like the disassociation because I didn’t know what that was. And that was really scary because I had lived for years with this person completely disassociating from reality and for myself and for my body. And then when I got out, I didn’t know how to get back in. And I started being very scared because I couldn’t I couldn’t be present in my life, it was like I was looking at my life through a pane of glass that I couldn’t get through. And then that made my anxiety worse. You know, just like it, like it’s a snowball effect.
Jameela [00:41:43] Totally, totally.
Evan [00:41:44] So it’s like you uncover one thing and then you uncover another. It’s like another door, another door, another door, right?
Jameela [00:41:51] And I think that’s true of people who don’t even, you know, go through what you’ve gone through. That’s probably just like a part of growing up, which is really intense. And so how long ago did you have a baby?
Evan [00:42:02] Uh almost nine years ago.
Jameela [00:42:04] Yeah. So you have like a full. You’ve got a full kind of it’s well an adult, according to the media, that’s a sentient adult. Kind of old actually. You have a pensioner in your house.
Evan [00:42:21] Exactly.
Jameela [00:42:21] How the fuck did you? How did you? How have you done this? How have you done this? How have you managed to go through all of that healing and then also take on motherhood? Did you feel like that was something that kind of saved you and centered you and stopped you from ever doing something incredibly self-destructive?
Evan [00:42:47] Yeah, yeah. And it it. I mean, my child is a hero to me, and they don’t even know it. Because. They’ve been through this with me. You know, they may not always know what’s going on, but they’re so perceptive and sensitive. And you know, I’m I. Of course. I feel bad that, you know, when they were born, I was enveloped in so much grief and and so I was parenting through grief. I was a single mom, you know, I was on my own with with them, but by the time they were a year old. And so, you know, I’ve always felt like I was kind of doing it by myself. And, you know, with not what, I’m trying to be really nice to my parents. I didn’t always have like
Jameela [00:43:47] But they love my podcast, so you’ve got to be careful. Their big fans.
Evan [00:43:50] But, you know, like, I didn’t always have an example of what to do and. You know, I was really kind of like learning as I went along with them, but in parenting them and seeing I mean, children are just like such a gift because they will mirror like anything back to you. You know, the good and the bad. And so it’s like the ultimate therapy exercise where you cannot run from your shit because it’ll it’ll just go to them, you know, and then it comes back to you and you’re like, Why are you acting like this? And it’s like, they’re acting like, this because of you and your shit. And so if you want them to be OK, you have to be OK. And not just in a I’m pretending like everything is fine kind of way like you have to demonstrate and model for them how to process. You know, and and and to humble yourself and, you know, when you do make a misstep, I know I let my child know and I’ll say, Hey, you know what? Like that was not about you. And like. I’m I’m very stressed, I’m very tired and just know like, you know, because because all parents have a moment where you know you’re you’re stressed and you know, it’s not,.
Jameela [00:45:11] You fucking snap.
Evan [00:45:12] You fucking lose your cool, right? And but it’s how you repair that and it’s how you you talk to them and tell them what’s going on and teach them how to repair and teach them what’s OK, teach them what’s not, you know, not just
Jameela [00:45:23] Teach them how to be accountable more than anything else.
Evan [00:45:24] How to be accountable. And because I’ve done that, they’ll sometimes have a moment where they get stressed and overwhelmed and they’ll lash out at me. And then I’m like, Oh God. And then they’ll come back and be like, Hey, mom, man, I’m really sorry. Like, it was a rough day at school and like, I love you so much. And it’s like, Oh my God, you’re 8 and you’re already like able to kind of like, talk through your feelings and and be accountable and to not, you know, dig your heels in when you feel like you may be, you know, not regulated your emotions in a in a in a healthy way because most people will just like lash out and then they’re like, No, it’s like if I admit to like being wrong, then that means I’m weak and.
Jameela [00:46:09] I lose my authority. Or my power yeah.
Evan [00:46:09] I lose my authority. Totally. But I think it’s it’s kind of the opposite. Anyway, I kind of like went off on a tangent, but yes, my my child has informed so much of of my healing, and I feel bad because that’s not, you know, their responsibility, but it is part of the parent child relationship. We all do it and they’re there to teach us. I think more than we’re even there to teach them sometimes like, you know, it’s all just how we model for them, that’s so important.
Jameela [00:46:40] Yeah. And I feel like it’s such a it’s a weird, interesting. I don’t want to say gift, but you know, when you grow up with things that your parents didn’t know how to do differently, but you’ve now you come up in the age of information. You know, that’s how I would describe this. And you have all this. You know, when you can’t reach a therapist, you can still see WebMD you can still. But you know what I mean that you can read the blogs of other people who’ve had similar experiences. You can reach out to people and you have just more access to understanding the terminology. And so I think that that’s really brilliant, that you’re able to then pass that on and show that. And I don’t think that is a disrespect to your parents. Like you’ve already touched on the ways in which they were disadvantaged. It’s been a huge, huge part of my shift in the last few years just to be like, OK, all right, everyone was doing their best under their circumstances, and if they knew what I know now, things would have been different.
Evan [00:47:35] Exactly. And it’s the same as it’s going to be the same when my child gets older, there’s going to be a million things that they’re going to have a lot of notes for me, you know, and that’s and that’s for them to, you know, if they decide to be a parent or however they choose to, you know, walk through their life, they can take that with them and go, OK, here’s the things that I really loved. And here’s the things that really didn’t serve me. And let’s do it differently this time. I mean, that’s literally evolution. You know, it’s just like we can only do a little better, a little better than our parents, you know? And and there were also things that I got to heal with my parents by having children. Because when you do see yourself start to unconsciously slip back into patterns that your parents had, you understand them a lot more and you go, Oh my God, like, that’s what was going on with them internally. And now I can see it, and now I can stop it, you know? Now, now, now, now I, you know, it’s those moments where like, Oh, I just sounded just like my mother. I just sounded just like my father, and I always said I never would. And it’s like, that happens because it’s in our DNA. And it’s it’s, you know, we I remember saying I would do things differently when I had kids, but I didn’t really necessarily think about what those different things would be or what it would replace things with when I took them out. And so I did have these moments of like wait, I said I would do differently, but I actually don’t know how to do it different. And so I’m going to really have to work at this.
Jameela [00:49:00] Yeah. Well, speaking of the future, will you talk to me about what you’re doing now that we can all watch and support and learn about.
Evan [00:49:20] Definitely you know, the documentary that’s just come out Phoenix Rising is to me, it is just sort of scratching the surface because there’s so much, you know, involved with this issue, but it’s a very good jumping off point. And it’s just. Well, you know, for instance, like, why don’t people just leave that question? It’s such a privileged question because you’re assuming that everybody has a place to go and not everybody has a place to go. Not everybody has the resources, not everybody has the money just to just to leave or move out. Or, you know, if you have kids involved that are tangled with the person that’s abusing you, it’s even more horrifying and family court for domestic violence survivors is there’s so much, so much work to do there. But so I’m going to continue my advocacy work and continue to try to pass legislation like the Phoenix Act. There was there were so many provisions that we had in the bill that got cut on the floor and we were all very confused by that. You can see it in the in the in the documentary. But but we had things like if three or more women come forward about the same person that could extend the statute of limitations if coercive control is involved, which is sort of what you’re speaking about like this way that people can be literally kept prisoner in their own homes.
Jameela [00:50:48] Will you elaborate on coercive control? It’s fascinating and really amazing that it’s being acknowledged in court. So they passed it in the United Kingdom as well. Like, it’s starting to kind of spread around the world that that this is also like a recognized form of abuse where you don’t have to come in anymore with the bruises. So will you just will you just elaborate on that?
Evan [00:51:11] Part of the work that advocates do for domestic violence is try to stop the violence before it starts. They focus so much on prevention because right now there is not a lot that the police or the courts can do unless your arm is broken or you’re half dead. And by then, some usually it’s too late. And because. So much of what happens in these situations is textbook, it’s really like psychology that’s been going on for so long that it’s quite easy to like, track and break it down. So there are precursors to violence. And and you know, the people have done enough work and enough studies on this that there are ways to sort of track these precursors to violence and how so coercive control is sort of like the nonviolent forms of domestic violence. But it’s also a way that somebody’s civil liberties can slowly be be stripped from them until they’re trapped. That could be like, Oh, I’m just going to I’m going to pay for everything. You don’t have to worry about anything like, you know, I’m just going to take control of the finances and then it’s like, You know, I don’t really like you hanging out with with your friends or like your parents right now, so I’m just going to like, isolate you from them. And then it’s like, Oh, you know, I don’t like the way you’re dressing, or like blah blah blah and then like, it’s like the lobster slowly boiling in the pot. You know, I’m going to threaten you. I’m not going to lay a hand on you, but I’m going to punch a hole in this wall or I’m going to threaten you. I’m going to scare you. So you’re going to be afraid to say no to me. And therefore, you know, consent kind of goes out the window if you’re afraid to say no. And so there’s all these ways that somebody sort of slowly strips you of your rights. And then once you’re stripped of all of that, once you’ve been threatened, once somebody is taken control of the finances, once they’ve isolated you from your friends and family, all of a sudden. Like,.
Jameela [00:53:06] It’s easier to stay.
Evan [00:53:07] It’s it’s easier to stay to be trapped and then it’s easier to be physically abusive. And so normally somebody will trap you and then become physically abusive. And that’s why a lot of times it escalates from coercive control to full on physical violence. And so the work that people have been doing to define coercive control is incredible because for so long, I think the courts and people were very concerned about defining emotional violence because, oh, what does that mean if some, if you call somebody stupid, are they going to get arrested? And it’s like, No, but if somebody is using all of these tactics to sort of trap you and keep you somewhere and keep you prisoner in your own home, it’s a very different story. And so it’s good to know the distinction between the two.
Jameela [00:53:57] It is massive what you’re doing, and it’s a huge service to other people. And your life would have been much more peaceful processing this privately and what you’ve done is hopefully, remove someone really dangerous from being able to do this again to someone.
Evan [00:54:19] That’s the main goal.
Jameela [00:54:21] And you’ve also sent out a signal like a signal to the entire industry in a really important time, even though you got shut down by the, you know, the media at times and gaslit, you have sent out a warning shot to everyone that just because you’re powerful, talented or wealthy, you can’t get away with this shit forever. And you you can’t break people even through everything you went, even through everything that you endured. You were able to find the strength to be able to do this. And it is definitely, you know, as someone who has a lot of friends in the music industry, what you’ve done is definitely sent shockwaves through the industry in a way that’s incredibly fucking powerful. And that’s why everyone is so afraid of you. And that’s why you really tried to destroy something you’re afraid of. I’ve always believed, but you’re fucking hero for what you’ve taken on and I know it was really hard, and even bringing out this documentary must have been hard and you must feel, anxious, that you were going to be retaliated against whenever you make these moves. Do you do you get like negative reactions online from strangers who feel threatened by your work?
Evan [00:55:33] I have had to completely disconnect from strangers online. I don’t read anything anymore. I and and I that’s the best advice I give anybody going through this and I’ll have friends and people that have gone in and and read some of the, you know, nasty things that people are saying about me. And they’ll they’ll come in and be like, can you believe that this person was saying this? And I’ll go, No, I didn’t know that that was being said. I don’t. I don’t. I don’t want to in my energy. I don’t want it in my psyche like I don’t, because even though you know, you know the truth, it can still hurt. And and. I just don’t I just don’t invite it in anymore. I just don’t want to even know what’s being said.
Jameela [00:56:20] I love that. I love that self preservation now. We’ve spoken a lot about the downsides and the hard parts about recovery and the hard parts about speaking out and how difficult the court is and family courts. Can you tell me some of the really great parts about taking the ownership back of your own fucking narrative and fighting this? I mean, if there are any, but are there like, is there a part of you that feels kind of like more autonomy and like that kind of fight back in you that someone tried to stamp out, etc.?
Evan [00:56:50] I feel free. And you know, I every time I’ve spoken out, I always have a moment where I think this could be it, this could be the end of your career. Like, you don’t know how this is going to go or how this is going to be received and you could lose it all. And there was just always. You know, this kind of like my freedom is just I’m just always going to pick my freedom, I don’t know, I don’t know how else to exist. My family will tell you that too. They’re like, Evan’s going to do whatever he wants to do like. And. It just it’s taught me so much about myself and about others. It’s brought so much attention to me and my whole family. I mean, this has been really hard for my family to go through and and it’s brought up a lot of old wounds and, you know, for them to see this happen to someone that they love. But at the same time, the healing that has been afforded to my family because we’ve had to talk about things, you know, we’ve had to face things and it’s it’s taught me that you don’t have to be afraid of that, that you know, it’s it’s it’s OK to walk to the fire and that there is another side and you don’t have to stay in the victimhood forever. I think there is a there’s a part of healing where you kind of do have to stay in that like you have to own that. How horrible what happened to you was and how much it hurt. And then you have the decision to be a survivor to stay a victim, you know, and like. And and I don’t mean to say like, it’s wrong to call yourself a victim, right? That’s not really what I’m saying, but it’s just it’s it’s I feel if you stay there for too long, you know, you almost get addicted to the pain you get, you know, get addicted to the dysfunction. You feel powerless.
Jameela [00:58:41] You lose hope.
Evan [00:58:41] Yeah, it’s more of like the powerlessness.
Jameela [00:58:44] Yeah you lose hope that it’ll ever be different. I think that’s what can be really dangerous. And I’ve seen people who’ve done both. And I mean, really, your process is whatever your process is. And.
Evan [00:58:52] Yeah, exactly.
Jameela [00:58:53] And if right now you still feel like a victim.
Evan [00:58:55] That’s ok.
Jameela [00:58:55] Maybe later you won’t but it’s definitely it’s more empowering to kind of move your way through in your own time to the point where you can remember that it’s fucking amazing if you’re still alive. Fucking amazing if you haven’t really hurt yourself or even someone else. PTSD is so extreme what it does to the brain, what it does to your neurochemicals. And so just know that even if you are a victim of one thing, you’re also a fucking legend just for still being it like the fact that you endured it, even if you’re not on top form, even if you look 10 years older than you actually are, like whatever the fuck is going on your here.
Evan [00:59:37] You’re here, exactly.
Jameela [00:59:38] And that is magical. People who aren’t who maybe haven’t even been through what you’ve been through. So just be very, very fucking proud of yourself and and and at least just try to cling to that and remember that if you can still be here, you can really kind of achieve anything.
Evan [00:59:55] Absolutely. And definitely, I mean, some people I’ve had a couple of people say, God don’t you just want to like, move on, I mean, and stop talking about this and like, you know, do you want to keep doing this advocacy work forever? And it’s like, You know, that’s yes. I mean, it’s a part of the healing. You know, it’s what is the saying through self forgetting. We remember ourselves or we heal ourselves. You know, it’s like the because I’m here and because I got now and I’ve done these things. It’s like it. It, it helps me help other people, you know, and to. Have these discussions, and to be honest about my flaws and the things I’m proud of. And just to humanize ourselves as much as possible and just look for like a brutal honesty. It’s the only way we’re going to get through this, and it’s only way we’re going to get through this. It’s the only way to heal is we got to start being really honest, not just with other people, but with ourselves and like it, see the red flags in other people, but also the red flags in ourselves, you know, and and and take ownership and you know, and do the work like it’s just and to not be afraid to do the work. And so I have I there have been some really beautiful things that have come out of this journey and like, Oh my God, my child and I have just the most incredible relationship, and I know that I’ve done everything I can to demonstrate to them resilience and healing. And if something terrible does happen to you, you know that you can get through it. And and. That’s that’s all I can hope to do is just do my best. You know, and I’m not always going to be perfect and I’m not, you know, sometimes I’m going to say the wrong thing and not get it right. But but I’m committed to to learning.
Jameela [01:01:46] Yeah, it’s also kind of like, weirdly, all of this is kind of pushed you to a place of authenticity that some people might never get to because they’re not being made to confront it because they’re overcoming something. So you are living this kind of free and authentic life. It’s so interesting how these things kind of end up, and I would I personally would rather you be less authentic and not have gone through what you’ve gone through, but just to look at the ways in which things shape us and I don’t know, like can shape us in beautiful ways, accidentally
Evan [01:02:20] Yeah it’s like the gift of no shame. It’s like, I feel. Yes. To your point, like, I wish that I haven’t been called every name in the book and like publicly shamed and have to just so much shame, I was shrouded in so much pain for so long, but there is a sort of. Freedom that comes with like I. All the worst, this kind of happened like if I’m worried about what people think about me, you know, it’s like, well, I’ve already had like so many terrible things said about me, so I’m not really worried about that anymore. It’s like, I’m not really worried about this and I’m not really worried that that it’s like, it’s all kind of happened. And so. Yeah, there’s this weird kind of freedom and no shame which forced me to be able to be just incredibly authentic because. When you feel like you’ve got nothing left to lose, you know, you’ve reached a very dangerous level of freedom.
Jameela [01:03:16] I was about to say, I mean, that’s that’s exactly it is that when they can, when they can sense you don’t give a shit, it’s like when they try the hardest to make you do so and try and kind of teach you a lesson for it. It’s a and in a truly like unbelievable journey that you’ve been on, and it is remarkable to be able to so quickly because I know it happened a long time ago, but it’s a lot you had to unpack and to so quickly gotten yourself to a point where you can so lucidly describe the ins and outs of it, the ups and downs, the ways in which it’s changed you for the better, for the worse, etc. whatever. It is really, really incredible. And as I was kind of touching on earlier, thank you for the countless people that you might have saved or be saving with your incredibly important work. I really would love for everyone to go out and follow all of Rachel’s work in this area because I think some people just know you only as this incredible actor that they love. And I wish I’d had more time to be able to talk to you more about your acting that I’m completely obsessed and have been for ages. But this was this was a more pressing subject, given the documentary and given everything that was happening politically in the world right now. Before you go, I would just love for you to tell me. What do you weigh?
Evan [01:04:39] Yeah, it’s like it’s like how I how I how I set an example and and. You know how how I. How I can help heal. I mean, that’s always. That’s like my fucking driving force. I mean, that’s why I became an actor is because I wanted to help people heal, you know, by by being able to see something that they connected with or reminded them of themselves or they learn something they didn’t know or they could see the world through somebody else’s eyes. You know, it’s like all of these things are, you know, the type of things that I bring into my advocacy work as well. You know, the empathy and the compassion and the healing and teaching, you know, through vulnerability and honesty, you can help other people, you know, heal and teach them about themselves. And so I don’t know. That’s probably that, probably just through healing and example in like being a mom and not just not just a mom to my child, but bringing that kind of mother energy like everywhere I go, I think it’s important.
Jameela [01:05:44] Yeah. Yeah, I mean, you got it right now. It’s lovely. Well, look, I hope I get to speak to you soon. And I really hope as many people as possible see your documentary. We will do a huge push for it on this episode, and I hope that. I hope that this has been a helpful episode for anyone who might be going through these things, who might have gone through these things or who might know someone who is this might give you a little bit of an insight into what all of that feels like, and maybe some of the signs that you might be missing because it is so nuanced and it’s so personal. And the more we talk about it, the more we have conversations like this, the more we see documentaries like yours, the more I mean, the harder it will be to hide this, because this conversation has been because we have shamed people who’ve been abused for such a long time. And I mean, I’ve never understood how that was even possible, how that even happened, that we managed to convince people that that therefore they should be ashamed. But because we’ve done that, we’ve turned it into a taboo subject, and a stigmatized subject. And we’ve made people feel like they’ll never recover from it. And so people coming back, people like you and other people have come forward to come back from that and be like, I have actually recovered or I’m in recovery and now fuck you are like I’ve got to bite back. It’s something that they never saw coming. And that’s how so many people have gotten away with such pervasive and constant abuse. And I feel as though their days are just fucking numbered.
Evan [01:07:11] Yeah. Well, the patterns being exposed. Yeah, the the tactics and the patterns, I mean. That they rely on are being exposed, at least, you know, these like powerful serial abusers, oh my God. But it’s also like we got there because of the look at the history of domestic violence. I mean. It is so ingrained in us and in society and the way that. To your point, like it happens to men and women, but it’s never been legal to beat your husband. It has been legal to be your wife like these laws reflect the time when women were considered property and if if your husband beat you, then it was because you did something wrong. And so that’s where the mindset comes from. It’s just like, you know, slavery doesn’t exist, but racism clearly still does. It’s like you can eliminate these laws, but the mentality remains. And so it’s like there was a time it was legal. The rule of thumb come, you know, that’s saying or like the rule of thumb literally comes from a rule where you could beat your wife with something that was no bigger than your thumb, like that was.
Jameela [01:08:20] What? I’ve never known that!
Evan [01:08:20] That was the acceptable the rule of thumb. And, you know, like we call it, tank tops wife beaters like, you know, these things just so flippantly done and we don’t even realize it but yes. And like spousal rape in the United States, was legal until 1992. I was in first grade. You know, it’s that’s my lifetime. So clearly, we’ve got a lot to undo with how we think about this issue, which for so long was viewed as a private matter that is between the family that we don’t get involved in and clearly that can’t go on.
Jameela [01:08:55] I hope that this doesn’t sound patronizing. But I also want to say to anyone out there who maybe feels stupid because I remember feeling that way when I was in it, where I was just like or even when I was just out of as I, how did I? Why did I stay in that? How did I let that happen to me? I’m smarter than this. I must not be that smart. I must be stupid to have, not just or weak to have stayed in that. Hopefully you can listen to this. And if you do look at people like myself and Evan like as as, I don’t know, strong or impressive because that’s the way that we’ve been in particular, like displayed and you know shiny and strong and all this sort of shit, the way that we are represented publicly. And I think we are really strong and impressive and shiny personally as well. But if you look at us and you see everything that we have and the fact that we are both smart and emotionally skilled and we both were able to end up in that situation, all kinds of different versions of some sort of unhealthy relationships in our lives. Please know that you, you are not stupid. This can happen to anyone at any level of protection. I was famous when it happened to me. So were you like we had people around, like teams of people around us who didn’t know what was going on, you know, so
Evan [01:10:22] or did and just didn’t know what to do.
Jameela [01:10:25] Yeah. And or,who did and we’re just hyper normalized to it and just thought, Oh, well, you know, she’s with a genius so. This is what it’s like, which is not true, by the way, in my opinion, anyway.
Evan [01:10:38] And sometimes it is the people that are smart and strong that do end up in these situations because you can be very compassionate and very empathetic
Jameela [01:10:48] And good at covering it up and
Evan [01:10:50] And good at covering it up. And yeah, good at going while they’re doing this because this happened to them. And so I can’t, you know, it’s like, that may be true. And a lot of times people that are hurting other people have been hurt themselves. But. Then they got to go they they’ve they’ve got to be accountable, they’ve got to get help for it. We can’t fix that. You know, it’s life that has to come from them.
Jameela [01:11:12] 100 percent. So just don’t feel, please don’t. Please, please, please do anything you can to not shame yourself if you are in this situation or have ever been in this situation. It is not your bad. There is something that happens to the wiring of our brains in these situations, and we are also products of our environment. I’m not going to go on and on about it, but I just wanted to say that because I remember feeling it so intensely and I remember you talking about, you know, the amount of shame you had once it all kind of hit you. And so, yeah, Evan I’m fuckin I’m so happy that you came and this feels like it happened so fast.
Evan [01:11:49] So fast. I know it’s
Jameela [01:11:51] I can’t believe we’ve gone over an hour. I can talk to you all day. Please come back and let me know how I can ever support you. So, I’m I’m. I’m here. I’m ready to ride at dawn.
Evan [01:12:05] Hell yeah man we ride at dawn. Also. And please, if anybody is in a bad situation, know that there’s to get a domestic violence advocate, get somebody that can give you advice on on how to get out and how to stay safe. There’s resources online, there’s hotlines, there’s numbers you can call, there’s websites with quick exit buttons in case somebody walks in on you looking at something that might set them off. You know, please just know that there’s help out there and they’re not alone and there there are resources if you’re wondering what to do.
Jameela [01:12:37] Hundred percent. Thank you so much for your time, and I hope you have a wonderful, wonderful day.
Evan [01:12:44] Thank you too. Same.
Jameela [01:12:48] Thank you so much for listening to this week’s episode. I Weigh with Jameela Jamil is produced and researched by myself, Jameela Jamil, Erin Finnegan and Kimmie Gregory. It is edited by Andre Carson, and the beautiful music you’re hearing now is made by my boyfriend, James Blake. If you haven’t already, please rate review and subscribe to the show. It’s a great way to show your support. We also have a bonus series exclusively on Stitcher Premium called Ask Jameela Anything. Check it out. You can get a free month Stitcher Premium by going to Stitcher.com/premium and using the promo code, I Weigh. Lastly, over at I Weigh, we would love to hear from you and share what you weigh at the end of this podcast. You can leave us a voicemail at 1-818-660-5543 or email us what you weigh at Iweighpodcast@gmail.com. And now we would love to pass the mic to one of our fabulous listeners.
Listener [01:13:40] I weigh my kindness towards others, even if I don’t know them. My wonderful relationship with myself, after all that I’ve been through and recovering from anorexia. Thank you so much. Have a great one. I love the podcast.
November 27, 2023
This week, Jameela is joined by writer, broadcaster and feminist organizer Clementine Ford to discuss the historical roots of marriage as a tool of patriarchal control, the illusions surrounding modern matrimony and the modern marketing machinery that sustains its myth.
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Jameela is joined by beauty culture critic Jessica DeFino in a candid conversation about where her current research and journalism is taking her, after years of covering a multi-billion dollar beauty industry for major women’s magazines & beauty apps in the US.