A previous relationship with a former partner permanently affected actor Mena Suvari’s perspective on sex, she told The Guardian in an interview published Wednesday.
Suvari, who is best known for her roles in the 1999 films “American Beauty” and “American Pie,” says her ex, a lighting engineer, coerced her into using uncomfortable sex toys and forced her to pick up other women for threesomes.
The 43-year-old writes about the experience in her 2021 memoir, “The Great Peace.” From name-calling to needing medical treatment after repeated, rough anal sex, she said she was so desperate for his affection that she dealt with the abuse by doing drugs.
“I was not being loved. I was just a body, a receptacle for his desires,” she wrote in her memoir.
While in the relationship, Suvari said, she endured countless acts of sexual abuse, such as being forced to bring in other women for threesomes ― even those she met while working.
She told The Guardian that after the relationship ended, she ran into one of the women she had a threesome with and told her, “I want you to know that I never wanted to do any of those things.”
The woman was surprised and said the ex told her that Suvari “wanted to do that.”
Suvari called the moment an “eye-opener,” allowing her to see how she had been manipulated by him.
“The circumstances had been created for me, and I was just swallowed up by it,” she added.
She lamented the fact that she never got to learn about her own sexuality within the bounds of a healthy relationship ― especially since she was raped by a friend of her older brother’s when she was in the sixth grade.
Suvari also pointed out that she’s not judging others who may enjoy threesomes or sex toys.
“I’ve never wanted to speak negatively about things that can be very healthy for other people. I was not given the choice or the permission to do it, and that’s what was so destructive for me,” she told The Guardian.
Suvari added that the “messed up thing” about experiencing sexual abuse is that part of it is “like, satisfying. But then the other part is an absolute nightmare, so you’re confused, you don’t know what’s right. All of that still weighs on me because I never got the opportunity to discover myself in that way.”
She said the idea of dating someone in high school and then deciding to lose your virginity to that person “sounds so beautiful to me,” but “all of that was lost for me.”
Suvari has been married to prop master Michael Hope since 2018 and has a 1-year-old son. When not acting, she works with disadvantaged youth at Vista Del Mar in Southern California.
Need help? Visit RAINN’s National Sexual Assault Online Hotline or the National Sexual Violence Resource Center’s website.