Long-time activist Jane Fonda told an audience of other activists and philanthropists that her mother had been sexually abused as a child, a trauma that may have been a factor leading to the decision to take her own life at the age of 42.
Fonda shared the revelation at the 40th anniversary of the Rape Treatment Center, a renowned center committed to providing treatment for sexual assault victims.
The Oscar-winning actress served as host of The Rape Foundation's annual fundraising event held this year at billionaire Ron Burkle's Greenacres estate in Beverly Hills.
The 76-year-old actress said she didn't acquire the knowledge about her mother first-hand, but came across details of the abuse while doing research for her memoirs. The actress said it was while reviewing her mother's medical records that she uncovered details of her mother's abuse, which apparently occurred when she was eight years old.
Fonda was 12 when her mother, Frances Fonda Seymour, committed suicide.
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"The minute that I read that, everything fell into place," Fonda told the audience. "I knew why the promiscuity, the endless plastic surgery, the guilt, the inability to love or be intimate, and I was able to forgive her and forgive myself."
Fonda promised to "support the Rape Treatment Center for the rest of my life" because sexual violence is "epidemic."
Fonda's 9 to 5 co-star and fellow activist, Lily Tomlin, introduced Fonda at the event. Other speakers included David Schwimmer and Eric McCormack, who urged the crowd to support the center. Five attendees, including Burkle, donated $100,000 to support the Rape Treatment Center's continued efforts to offer free medical, psychological and legal services to victims of sexual assault.
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The founder of the Rape Treatment Center and President of The Rape Foundation, Gail Abarbanel, introduced other rape survivors, including the mother of the Steubenville, Ohio High School student, who was assaulted in 2012. Abarbanel praised the girl for her bravery in pressing charges against the star football players accused in the attack, despite overwhelming support for the beloved players by the community.
The Rape Foundation provides other services, including free training for first responders and sexual assault prevention programs across the country.