Mena Suvari details surviving 'repeated sexual abuse' and drug addiction in new memoir

Mena survived abuse, drugs

Mena Suvari was "lucky" to survive years of "repeated sexual abuse," which led to drug addiction.

The American Beauty star who shot to fame as teenage cheerleader Angela who is the object of a middle aged man's obsession, played by Kevin Spacey in the 1999 movie, has detailed the trauma she experienced before her breakthrough film in her new memoir The Great Peace: A Memoir.

And in a chat with People, Suvari revealed she was hiding the truth of the terrible trauma she was dealing with.

"I was living a double life," the 42-year-old tells the publication. "Every time I would go on a set. Every time I was interviewed, I was acting the whole time. It was another role for me to play. That I was okay."

In an excerpt from the book she writes, "Between the ages of twelve and twenty, I was the victim of repeated sexual abuse."

Mena details how she was raped by a friend of one of her older brothers, whom she refers to as "KJ" in the book, was coerced into a sexual relationship with a manager, who she saw as a protector, at the age of 15, and was sexually and emotionally abused by a former boyfriend, named "Tyler" who she met just before she turned 17. During the three year relationship Tyler pressured her to participate in threesomes and pick up women to bring home for him.

"No, I don't want to do that," she recalls telling KJ, who was pressuring her to have sex, until one day, he brought her to a private room in his family's home where he raped her.

"Part of me died that day," says Suvari. "He used me, had fun with me and then disposed of me. He called me a whore."

She continued: "I never got to have a healthy expression of (sex). My choice was lost. And that, compiled with already not feeling seen and heard, established a concept that I would have of myself. That that was my value."

Soon after she began taking drugs to numb the pain.

"I turned to any form of self-medicating I could find, just to get by," she says. "I was just trying to survive."

Suvari eventually broke it off with Tyler and stopped using drugs - and with the help of therapy and supportive friends, began to regain her confidence.

In 2016, she met her now husband Mike Hope on the set of her Hallmark movie I'll Be Home For Christmas. The couple married two years later and have a son Christopher, who was born April 2021.

Now the actress hopes that by sharing her experiences, she can help others who have suffered.

"I hope I can help someone else see their value," she says. "If I can lessen the pain for someone else, then I want to do it, because I didn't have that person."

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