"When I was on 90210 a few years ago, the character I played, Naomi, was raped by someone she knew. I welcomed the story line, thinking it was important for viewers. I memorized my lines and rehearsed the scenes. I felt ready to go. Then when the cameras were rolling on an intense scene - a fight with an an unsupportive friend after the assault - I broke down, sobbing uncontrollably."
In an essay for Cosmopolitan, the 26-year-old begins by explaining that she grew up in an "extremely religious and conservative family," and her while parents would say they believed in strict “discipline,” McCord says it would be better characterized as "abuse."
"I know they were doing what they thought was right to discipline their kids. But it really messed me up," she wrote.
Later, when McCord was 18 and living on her own, a male friend called asking if he could crash on her couch because he needed a good night's sleep for a meeting in the morning.
"We sat on the bed and talked for a while, then I fell asleep. When I woke up, he was inside me," she wrote. "At first, I felt so disoriented and numb, I closed my eyes and pretended to be asleep. I wondered if I had done something to give him the wrong idea. I felt afraid of making him angry. Believe it or not, I didn’t want to offend him. I just wanted it to be over. My childhood had come back to haunt me again: Because of the physical abuse, I didn’t believe there were borders between other people’s bodies and my own. I didn’t believe I had a voice."
Suddenly, McCord wrote, her thought took a "practical turn":
I said, 'Please, don’t!' He stopped and went in the bathroom and finished. I lay there and stared at the ceiling for the rest of the night, frozen. At dawn, I wrote a note to him and left. I sat outside in a car and waited for him to leave. When he did, I went back inside, took a shower, and pretended it hadn’t happened.
McCord said her rapist is a man she would run into again, who would claim that what happened between them was consensual, later telling mutual friends that she was in love with him.
The experience drove her to a very dark place.
"I lay on my bed in a hotel in Madrid for days, feeling increasingly alone and hopeless," she wrote. "I had pills and water in hand and thought seriously about killing myself. I didn’t fear death -- it felt like a solution. When you’re in that mode, you don’t think suicide is a selfish thing to do. You think you’re doing everyone a favor."
The former "90210" star wrote that she later sought professional help and confronted her past. Today she is "in touch" with her family, and has "profound intimacy" with her boyfriend Dominic Purcell. But she has a message for women and girls: "You have a voice. Don’t put yourself in a box. Don’t let the polite lies of society silence you. Honestly, I would endure everything all over again -- it has led me to my own revolution."