How Reese Witherspoon Reclaimed Her Power After Leaving an Abusive Relationship

In the March issue of O, The Oprah Magazine (on newsstands Feb. 13), Oprah Winfrey interviews actresses Mindy Kaling and Reese Witherspoon, her co-stars in Ava DuVernay‘s adaptation of A Wrinkle in Time. The trio talk openly about how the #MeToo movement and Time’s Up initiative have impacted Hollywood—and, by extension, women across all industries.

“What’s the most difficult decision you’ve had to make to fulfill your destiny?” Winfrey asks.

“For me, probably leaving an abusive relationship,” Witherspoon replies, adding that she endured both “psychological” and “verbal” abuse. “I drew a line in the sand, and it got crossed, and my brain just switched. I couldn’t go any further. I was really young, and it was profound.”

Without delving into the specific details, Witherspoon explains, “It changed who I was on a cellular level, the fact that I stood up for myself. It’s part of the reason I can stand up and say, ‘Yes, I’m ambitious.’ Because someone tried to take that from me.” It was a watershed moment for Witherspoon, who a few years ago was celebrated for saying, “Ambition is not a dirty word.”