Instagram | @shailenewoodley

Shailene Woodley Gets Candid About Her Trauma With Sex And How She Healed

Shailene Woodley is getting candid once again about her life.

In a new interview with Bustle, the actress opened up about her past roles and the central theme that seems to follow them all: sex.

This led the Endings Beginnings star to admit that she's experienced trauma in her sex life. Plus, she shared how she got to a place of healing.

This is Shailene Woodley.

Instagram | @shailenewoodley

You might recognize her from the Divergent series, The Fault In Our Stars, or HBO's Big Little Lies.

If not, this could be because the actress has disappeared from the spotlight these past couple of years.

This past April, the actress explained why.

Instagram | @shailenewoodley

“I haven’t spoken much about this yet publicly, and I will one day, but I was very, very sick in my early 20s," she told the New York Times.

But she didn't choose to go too much into detail.

"While I was doing the Divergent movies and working hard, I also was struggling with a deeply personal, very scary physical situation."

Instagram | @shailenewoodley

“Because of that, I said no to a lot of opportunities because I needed to get better, and those jobs ended up going to peers of mine who I love. They went on to a lot of success,” she added.

This led to a lot of worry over whether she — or her career — would ever recover.

Instagram | @shailenewoodley

Thankfully, though, she got through to the other side.

“I feel very grateful to have walked that line of fire, because now I know what I don’t want to ever go back to.”

One of the first movies the actress took on post-illness is *Endings Beginnings* by director Drake Doremus.


In it, she plays Daphene, a girl who takes a six-month vow of celibacy after breaking up with her boyfriend.

But that all changes when she meets best friends Frank (Sebastian Stan) and Jack (Jamie Dornan).

Soon, she begins sleeping with both of them.


Recently, the actress talked to Bustle about the film, including how the director asked his actors to improvise most of the lines outside of the 80-page outline he gave them.

“What improvising an entire movie does is forces you to be truthful in a way that even in your own life you’re not truthful,” Woodley said.

Instagram | @shailenewoodley

“Because of that raw, vulnerable state we submitted to while performing these characters, I learned a lot about what was and wasn’t working in my personal life.”

As for these parallels in her personal life, she found that a lot of the roles she's done had a lot to do with sex.

This all started with her breakout role on The Secret Life of the American Teenager in 2008.

“I can only speak [about my characters’ sex lives] through my experience with sex,” she said.

“When I signed onto *Secret Life*, I read [three] episodes and I signed a contract for six years.


"[Those episodes] all hit home. I had friends in high school who were pregnant. It felt like everything that I wanted to be sending into the world.”

Things soon changed, however, when the show became more about promoting abstinence.


“There were a lot of things that were written into the scripts that not just me, but a lot of the cast, disagreed with,” Woodley said.

“There were belief systems that were pushed that were different than my own. Yet legally I was stuck there."

She continued:

"To this day it’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. So being on Secret Life propelled me to be more vocal about my own belief systems.”

During the interview, the actress became very candid about trauma in her own sex life.

Instagram | @shailenewoodley

“I lost my own virginity in a really unromantic, unsexy way, [so] it’s very therapeutic for me that by playing these characters I was showing young women what they can wait for.”

“I translate[d] my personal trauma into what she was experiencing in the best way that I knew," she said about playing Jane Chapman, a sexual assault survivor, in *Big Little Lies*.

“There have been times in my personal life where [I] want to experience something with someone, but you’re so afraid because of whatever it is [so] you stop yourself,” she said.

Part of the star's healing came from being in an open relationship for years.

Instagram | @shailenewoodley

“I had a lover that taught me a lot about my own body and my own emotional connection to sex,” she said.

“That’s when I feel like I healed my relationship with sexuality — when this beautiful man came into my life and helped me walk through that journey.”

This has helped her view sex in a whole new light.

“I love sex,” she said. “I think it is one of the most underrated, underappreciated, and undervalued experiences that we have.”

For more of Shailene's interview, you can read it here.

h/t: Bustle