Reese Witherspoon: Picture: Hilary Bronwyn Gayle/HBO via AP
Reese Witherspoon has bravely revealed that she was sexually assaulted by a film director at the age of just 16 and the harrowing experience still comes back to her vividly.

The actress, now 41, has spoken out about the experiences of some women in Hollywood following the accusations of sexual harassment and assault made against film producer Harvey Weistein and insists there are "ugly truths" that have to be confronted.

Reese decided to speak out about what happened to her when she was just a teenager at the Elle Women in Hollywood event in Beverley Hills on Monday night and admitted that the incident still haunts her now.

Addressing the audience, the Oscar winner bravely said: "I have my own experiences that have come back to me very vividly and I find it really hard to sleep, hard to think, hard to communicate a lot of the feelings that I've been having about anxiety, honest, the guilt for not speaking up earlier . [I feel] true disgust at the director who assaulted me when I was 16 years old and anger at the agents and the producers who made me feel that silence was a condition of my employment."

Read: #MeToo: America Ferrera was sexually assaulted as a child

The 'Big Little Lies' star insists it wasn't an "isolated incident" but she now feels much "less alone" after hearing accounts of similar behaviour from her peers.

She said: "I have just spoken to so many actresses and writers, particularly women, who have had similar experiences and many of them have bravely gone public with their stories. That truth is very encouraging to me and everyone out there in the world because you can only heal by telling the truth."

Reese concluded her speech be insisting that "life is going to be different" as people stand alongside those who have been affected by these issues.

She added: "I feel really, really encouraged that there will be a new normal. For the young women in this room, life is going to be different because we're with you, we have your back and it makes me feel better. It makes me so sad to talk about these issues, but I would be remiss not to."