Glasgow & West Scotland

I kept my 'MeToo' sex assault secret for years

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Media captionMhairi Morrison alleged she was drugged, stripped and sexually assaulted by a film director 17 years ago

A Scottish actress who says she suffered a sex assault by a top movie director is coming home to urge aspiring actresses to 'end the culture of silence'.

Mhairi Morrison will speak to students at her former drama school, the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.

Ms Morrison wants to share her experience and show them a music video she has created on the #MeToo movement.

She revealed only recently what had happened to her 17 years ago.

She wants others to speak up and end the practices that have blighted the entertainment industry.

Image copyright Don't Silence Me
Image caption Mhairi Morrison spreads her message during the filming of the video

Ms Morrison was just 24 when, after studying drama in Glasgow, she moved to study in Paris.

After being taken under the wing of a well-known director, she ended up waking up in his bed with no knowledge of what had happened to her.

She believes she was drugged and sexually assaulted.

Ms Morrison kept her ordeal a secret but it was not until the #MeToo movement began, and in particular revelations about Bill Cosby and Harvey Weinstein emerged, that she thought about her experience.

She told BBC Scotland's The Nine: "There is so much shame associated with sexual assault I really just wanted to forget and put it behind me.

"I buried it until the Weinstein allegations came out and then I started to think what happened to me all those years ago and I started to deal with it.

"I wasn't quite sure how to come forward or what to do about it and then my dear friend who is a singer and songwriter, Sadie Jemmett, wrote this song "Don't Silence Me" for me and asked me to do the music video."


Mhairi's story

"Leaving drama school in Paris, I was introduced to an extremely successful French film director. We met at the most glamorous party I had ever been to, full of huge stars of French cinema.

When the director gave me his cell phone number, the man who had introduced us told me that "I was the envy of every actress in France".

He gave me a handful of names and production companies I could call and use his name to ask for a meeting. It was like being handed the golden ticket.

He then invited me to dinner parties at his house where everyone around the table was in their forties and successful in their glamorous careers of film composing, dancing, writing, and the like. I was 24, in awe of their world and wanted to be a part of it.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Now an actress in Hollywood, Mhairi Morrison studied in Glasgow and Paris, where she claims she was drugged and sexually assaulted

He soon began to push our friendship to an uncomfortable level. He would push himself up against me and try to kiss me. I'd push him away saying that I didn't want to sleep with him, that I wanted to work with him.

I was sure I could keep pushing him away and keep the friendship line drawn. I believed that he would get the message.

Several months after we had first met something happened that would change our relationship, and me, forever. I woke up in his bed one morning, naked, lying next to him, naked. I don't know how I got there. I don't remember anything. It was certain that he drugged and sexually assaulted me."

From: dontsilencemetoo.com


Image copyright Don't Silence Me
Image caption Mhaiai Morrison carries the flag for the MeToo movement in the video for the song Don't Silence Me

Ms Morrison also made contact with one of Bill Cosby's accusers - Lili Bernard who she says "shone a light through what I was going through at the time".

Ms Bernard features in the music video alongside about 40 other women, many of whom have accused high-profile men of sexual assault or misconduct after the #MeToo movement.

Ms Morrison has appeared in Casualty and the ITV drama series Missing, and is now based in Los Angeles.

She says #MeToo is changing things, but it depends where you are in the world.

She said: "It depends on what country you are in, in Los Angeles there are people who are being named quite regularly but in France it is extremely hostile for women to come out and tell their stories.

"The women who are talking about it are experiencing losing their jobs, even friends moving away from them.

"On the whole I think change is happening.

'Culture of silence'

She will talk to students at her old school in Glasgow on Wednesday.

But what message will she have for them?

"We must not be discouraged, things take time, movements take time to gain momentum.

"What I would hope is that we end the culture of silence so that if something bad is to happen you can talk about it directly and not, as in my case, wait 17 years to deal with it."

A spokesman for the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland said: "We're looking forward to welcoming back Mhairi to speak about what is a hugely important issue.

"The Royal Conservatoire is committed to leading the way in challenging and eliminating inappropriate behaviour within the performing arts sector through the management, education and support of our staff, students, audience and alumni. Freelance staff and guest artists have also been made fully aware of our policies and procedures."

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