Brooke Shields, 57, is opening up about a harrowing experience she endured three decades ago. Speaking with People magazine, Shields revealed that she had been sexually assaulted by an industry executive when she was in her twenties. This revelation first came to light in her new documentary, Brooke Shields: Pretty Baby, which premieres on Hulu on April 3.
The documentary title is a reference to the 1978 historical drama Pretty Baby, in which Shields starred when she was just 12. It tells the story of a child prostitute and infamously contained a nudity scene with a not-yet-teenage Shields. Just years later, when Shields says she was at the “lowest point of my career,” she booked an appointment with a Hollywood executive that turned into a business dinner. It was at this meeting that Shields was assaulted.
Brooke Shields opens up about being assaulted decades ago
“I thought I was getting a movie, a job,” revealed Shields. Instead, the executive brought Shields up to his room and assaulted her. “I didn’t fight. I just froze,” she recalled. For this, she blamed herself, telling herself over and over, “I shouldn’t have done that. Why did I go up with him? I shouldn’t have had that drink at dinner.”
Industry norms contributed to her reactions at the time immediate aftermath. She said, “It was really easy to disassociate because by then it was old hat,” adding, “And because it was a fight-or-flight type of choice. Fight was not an option, so you just leave your body. ‘You’re not there. It didn’t happen.'”
Defense mechanisms and coping methods
Much of Shields’ early career was tied to her appearance and body; she actually built a modeling career before she paused that line of work to earn her education at Princeton. As a result, “I’d always had a sense of disassociation from my body. From my sexuality.” She found it “easier to shut myself off” to any sense of sex appeal she had, as a cover girl. Because of the nature of the times, at the time she vehemently thought, “No one is going to believe me,” adding now, “People weren’t believing those stories back then. I thought I would never work again.”
Now, though, Shields is ready to tell her story. It couldn’t have happened before now. “It’s taken me this long to process it,” explained Shields. “I was never ready prior. I had to process it in my own way and on my own terms. Everybody processes their own trauma on a different timeline… it just felt like the right time now.”
In telling her story, Shields wants to share her truth and empower others. She says, “Doing the documentary, you see it all together, and it’s a miracle that I survived. She is doing this “with the hopes of helping people not feel alone.”