By Jared J. Jones

Ashley Judd

Ashley Judd

During the course of her memoir’s publicity tour this past month, Golden-globe nominated actress Ashley Judd opened up to the public, revealing the hard truths of her difficult childhood. Behind her enduring public facade has lain the reality of repeated sexual abuse, horrific traumas held in secrecy for decades.

In her book, entitled All that is Bitter and Sweet, Miss Judd recounts stories of forced molestation and advanced sexual exposure, laying out her experiences with candid faculty. Among the memories she recalls – often in raw, graphic detail – includes an incident in which she was pulled in by a dark and empty story; she was lured in by an older man offering her a quarter to play pinball. What ensued was Miss Judd’s first violent sexual encounter in a string of many to come.

Beyond unveiling the difficult details of her past, Miss Judd has proven equally open about the troubles they’ve caused her in her later life. She is forthright in sharing how her experience as an adult has been riddled by battles with severe depression and frequent descents into suicidal territories, eventually landing her in treatment centers during the most severe of periods. In one of the most harrowing instances, she tells of playing with a loaded gun, cocking the trigger and pressing it to her head. Her story is not unlike that of the hundreds of thousands of children falling victim to abuse every year, who then commonly face impossible struggles in their later life. Like her, these children are maliciously forced into a grim future.

The power and courage of Miss Judd’s actions in coming forward to the public cannot be understated. In sharing her own experiences, she not only serves to shine a light on an issue running rampant across the world, but also as an inspiration to those who so often find themselves without a voice, lost in a world of shame and secrecy.

Miss Judd has lived an exceptional life, managing to break free of the constraints of sexual abuse to achieve astounding success. In the field of acting, she has become a household name, at one time being the highest paid actress in America. It is commendable for her to stand as an emphatically involved figure against sexual abuse among minors, shedding her vulnerability and facing the unfathomable head on.

This is hardly the first time Miss Judd has made an effort towards the betterment of children worldwide. She is known to be an eager philanthropist, intimately participating in various international causes. Since her college years, she has involved herself in a number of social and political efforts, many of which focus on children’s issues.

Since 2004, she’s served as an ambassador for YouthAIDS, traveling to Cambodia, Kenya and Rwanda, among other nations affected by the HIV epidemic, offering her celebrity to bring much needed publicity to a dire worldwide issue. Additionally, Miss Judd selflessly donated her time and resources towards the production of three award-winning, internationally-aired documentaries for the organization: India’s Hidden Plague, Tracking the Monster, and Confronting the Pandemic – a project which garnered her a Distinguished Visitor award during her time in Guatemala. She is in the process of directing her first documentary project, focusing on a victim of traumatic fistula in Ethiopia.

After bearing first-hand witness to the experiences of the impoverished and uneducated during her initial travels to developing nations through YouthAIDS, Miss Judd has become a vocal advocate towards poverty prevention and international awareness of third world living conditions. She has been known to meet with key leaders across the globe, including heads of state, religious leaders, and diplomats, in a valiant effort to bring her message to the door step of those with the power to bring about progressive political and social change.

In 2008 Miss Judd gave the keynote address on the modern slave trade to the 2008 General Assembly of the United Nations. She is frequently invited as an expert panelist/moderator at conferences such as the Clinton Global Initiative, the International AIDS Conference, and the National Press Club.

Miss Judd has been a vital contributor to many charities and foundations. These include the Children’s Medical Research Institute, Creative Coalition, Five & Alive, Jeans for Genes, and Equality Now, among many more. As of this year, she serves on the Leadership Council of the International Center for Research on Women among 15 high-profile global leaders, advising the foundation on select issues. Her biography as a humanitarian is as honorable as it is extensive.

To learn more about some of the various efforts Ashley Judd is involved with, use the following links:
Children’s Medical Research Institute:
The Creative Coalition:
Jeans for Genes:
Listen Campaign:
Population Services International:
Equality Now:
Five & Alive: