Evan Rachel Wood – Staying in Marilyn Manson Relationship ‘Felt Like a Death Sentence’
In February 2021, Wood officially came forward naming Marilyn Manson as the abuser she previously referenced while granting congressional testimony in 2018. After Wood's admission, multiple women came forward with abuse allegations against Manson, and the last few years has seen most of the cases resolved. With Wood's battle against Manson still ongoing, she recently guested on the Navigating Narcissism podcast with host Dr. Ramani, speaking about her experiences with the singer.
As previously stated, Wood initially testified to Congress about being physically abused in 2018, initially not stating who her abuser was. Then, in 2021, she came forward to name Manson. “When I realized what a physical impact it was having on me, that was a breaking point, I knew I wasn’t going to be able to stay quiet,” explained the actress, noting that she began to have stress seizures. “I realized my silence was keeping me really sick.”
Within the chat, she reveals that she preferred to refer to the singer as Brian (his given name is Brian Warner), noting, "He was the one that created the name Marilyn Manson, he was the one that told us all to call him Manson, but to me that feels like a cult leader asking them to call you Papa ... This title he's given himself to fit whatever image he has of himself, and I didn't want to give him that power anymore, so I just use his real name Brian."
Speaking about how she claims to have broken free from the musician, Wood recalls, "The first step was that I finally made it out. I convinced him that it was his idea to let me go cause that's essentially what I felt I had to do. I had to study him for years and understand his gaslighting and manipulation, and I just knew that I was never going to get out if I was pulling away from him. If it was my choice to escape, I had to somehow play dead and give him something undesirable to give him the idea that it was his idea to let me go."
Further elaborating, she commented, “There was a moment where I was like, 'I’m so afraid of this person, I’ve been threatened so many times, either with blackmail or with force and if I stay here because I’m too scared to leave, I feel like I’m dead anyway.' Staying felt like a death sentence, leaving also felt terrifying because something could happen to me or he could come after me. I felt like either way I feel dead so I may as well try to escape.”
(Reader warning, depictions of alleged mental abuse discussed below)
Within the discussion, Wood recalls how the singer would isolate her from other people, explaining, it was "you and him and a mound of cocaine and he would keep you up and stay awake just berating you.” She claims Manson would be “telling you everything that was wrong with the world and the people around you, everything you were doing wrong, all the ways you were failing him and failing yourself, the suspicions he had towards you," and then "he would start wrecking the house. It was this non-stop onslaught of words and monologues, this constant stream of negativity that I felt like I couldn’t escape and couldn’t stop. It’s where the brainwashing and abuse started taking place. He wouldn’t stop until you gave in or started agreeing with everything he was saying or making the phone calls he wanted you to make.”
Wood also revealed that after leaving the relationship, she felt she was finally able to come to terms with how things had played out during her stint portraying Dolores Abernathy on HBO's Westworld. “It was the first time I really let myself go back and feel certain things because I wasn’t able to cry about it until seven years after,” she explained. “Then suddenly I’m doing these scenes where you’ve got to go there and it gave me permission and a buffer so I could allow myself in and it just opened up Pandora’s Box. There’s a scene where my character is programmed and she can’t pull triggers of any guns, she can’t defend herself and then there’s a scene where she finally does and she overrides her programming… that scene was a big moment for me, having to act the feeling of being held back and then breaking through it.”
Wood says that after filming the scene, she then felt comfortable speaking with people about her relationship with the vocalist and what she had gone through. "I started opening up to people… doing the show unlocked a lot of things and got me talking about it. I met other survivors on that show,” she explains.
What Happened After Evan Rachel Wood Named Marilyn Manson As Her Abuser?
In her initial post naming Manson (aka Brian Warner), Wood claimed Manson "started grooming me when I was a teenager and horrifically abused me for years. I was brainwashed and manipulated into submission. I am done living in fear of retaliation, slander or blackmail. I am here to expose this dangerous man and call out the many industries that have enabled him before he ruins any more lives."
She added, "I stand with the many victims who will no longer be silent," as four other women initially came forward along with Wood, levying accusations against the singer.
Manson refuted the accusations in a statement. It read, "Obviously, my art and my life have long been magnets for controversy, but these recent claims about me are horrible distortions of reality. My intimate relationships have always been entirely consensual with like-minded partners. Regardless of how — and why — others are now choosing to misrepresent the past, that is the truth."
In the movie, Wood says she was "essentially raped on camera" when she co-starred alongside Manson in the music video for his 2007 song "Heart-Shaped Glasses." The video begins with a scene of the pair having sex, which was presumed to be simulated.
However, when "the cameras were rolling, he started penetrating me for real," Wood alleges. "I had never agreed to that." Manson refuted the claim.
Manson sued Wood and her associate for defamation, sharing the full text of the lawsuit that claims the two formed a conspiracy against him. In a statement, the musician said, "There will come a time when I can share more about the events of the past year. Until then, I'm going to let the facts speak for themselves."
As for Wood, she expressed while appearing on The View, "I can't speak about any of the specific allegations of the lawsuit, but I am not scared. I am sad because this is how it works. This is what pretty much every survivor that tries to expose someone in a position of power goes through. This is part of the retaliation that keeps survivors quiet. This is why people don't want to come forward. This was expected."
Undeterred, the actress went on, "I'm very confident I have the truth on my side and that the truth will come out and this [lawsuit] is clearly timed before the documentary — there's a reason. Again, I'm not doing this [film] to clear my name, I'm doing this to protect people. I'm doing this to sound the alarm that there is a dangerous person out there and I don't want anybody getting near him. People can think whatever they want about me, I have to let the legal process run its course. I'm steady as a rock."
In February 2023, Ashley Morgan Smithline, who had initially filed suit against Manson, recanted her allegations against the singer, claiming she was "manipulated by Ms. Wood" to agree to "spread publicly false accusations of abuse." "I succumbed to pressure from Evan Rachel Wood and her associates to make accusations of rape and assault against Mr. Warner that were not true," Smithline writes, as Page Six reported. "I started to believe that what I was repeatedly told happened to Ms. Wood and [others] also happened to me."
Wood's spokesperson denied Smithline's accusations. "Evan never pressured or manipulated Ashley," they responded, claiming Smithline "first contacted Evan about the abuse she had suffered. It's unfortunate that the harassment and threats Ashley received … appear to have pressured her to change her testimony."
In May 2023, a judge dismissed much — but not all — of Manson's defamation lawsuit against Wood, but the case has not concluded. Manson has continued to deny all allegations against him.
If you or someone you know is facing abuse, visit the National Domestic Violence Hotline website. A disclaimer on the website notes that if you are concerned your Internet usage is being monitored, an alternative option is to call 800-799-SAFE (800-799-7233).
Evan Rachel Wood Speaks With Navigating Narcissism About Her Relationship With Marilyn Manson
Timeline of Abuse Allegations Against Marilyn Manson
Gallery Credit: Loudwire Staff