After being raped twice, multiple sexual assaults, and an attempt on her life, Kelly McGillis turned her back on fame and chose life
Two rapes, several assaults and an attempt on her life has made Kelly McGillis quite the recluse. All along she has been trying to put the trauma behind her and feel safe again.
Kelly McGillis turned 61 on Monday (July 9). It hard to forget the blonde beauty from the hit film 'Top Gun' (1986), which went on to become one of the most famous roles in her career. Incidentally, her co-star Tom Cruise has announced recently that Top Gun 2 is in the works. Val Kilmer has also signed up for the film. Whenever one thinks of Top Gun, the image of Charlie (Kelly) seated behind Maverick on the motorbike sporting a bomber jacket and her hair flying in the wind immediately materializes. One would have thought how Kelly was certainly here to stay, but sadly while her costars went on to achieve great stardom, Kelly slowly faded away from the industry making very few appearances after the year 2000.
Kelly did make an impression in Hollywood and theatre but her personal journey is not that pleasant a memory. Kelly was a survivor of two brutal rapes and several sexual assaults. The trauma from her personal life never really left her. Nearly 34 years ago, Kelly was raped by two men and the horrific details of the incident she laid bare in an interview with People. The incident dates back to 1979 when she relocated to New York City from Newport Beach, California, to study acting at the Juilliard School. Kelly believed that she “was so terribly naïve about the ways of the world.”
During this period, Kelly was mugged at gunpoint. While the incident was enough to shake anyone, little did Kelly know that a lot worse was waiting for her. Three years after this incident took place, Kelly was getting out of the shower when two men broke into her apartment. Despite her screams, she was forced into the bathroom while the men held a knife to her face. The two men took turns to sexually assault her all while spitting, hitting and stabbing at her with the knife.
“They kept switching and telling me they were going to beat me until I was dead,” she told the magazine. “At that point, I thought I would die, and I had resigned myself.” Eventually, the police arrived at her house and chased the men down. Kelly was immediately rushed to the hospital. The two men were arrested a month after the incident. Despite this, it did not get easier for Kelly to live through the pain and trauma.
“The first few weeks after the incident I couldn’t eat or sleep. I twitched incessantly,” she said recalling how she tried to survive the ordeal. “I would gasp suddenly without being able to control it.” Traumatized by what had happened, Kelly drowned her sorrow in alcohol. During this period she also gained 30 pounds. Her alcohol addiction reached to the extent where she had to seek rehab treatment. However, one thing that the alcohol could not fix was her inability to trust men.
She struggled to have a good relationship and the root cause of that had been her inability to trust men again. “Finally in 1984 I went into therapy for a year because I was tired of beating myself up for something I didn’t do, and I realized I would have no future if I didn’t stop,” she said. Later, her addiction saw her taking drugs, landing her in a Pennsylvania halfway house.
Things changed in 2009 when people believed that the actress had finally got the peaceful life that she had deserved. She was eight years sober and had a good relationship with her children who she had with her second husband, Fred Tillman, whom she divorced in 2002. During this time, Kelly made a shocking revelation that she was a lesbian. A year after she came out to the world, Kelly entered into a civil union with partner Melanie Leis after 10 years of living together. “I have a very quiet, little normal life, and I love it," she told the magazine at that time. But the romance did not last for long as in 2013 the two decided to part their ways.
It is then that Kelly decided to spend her time helping others. Speaking to The Oklahoman newspaper in 2013, Kelly opened up about how she felt helping others. “I find it’s just an amazing gift to see people come in hopeless and to be given some hope and some desire to live, and some tools for hopefully changing their lives, their children’s lives, their families’ lives,” she said. She also decided to give Hollywood another chance as she appeared in the cannibal horror film 'We Are What We Are' the same year.
“I think I kind of look at things now with like, ‘Have I done it before? Would it be fun? How long away from home is it?’” she said at that time. But things went crumbling down on June 17, 2016, when Kelly experienced another break-in at her home. In an emotional Facebook post, Kelly also opened up about someone from her past stalking her and attacking her and once attempted to poison her pets in a bid to destroy her personal life.
Kelly also revealed that at the age of 12 she was raped by three men. "After each one of these attacks, I moved thinking I could find a safe place. Not,” she wrote, adding, “I am now left with all the terrifying feelings of PTSD and trying to pull myself out of the very depth of the all-consuming depression and despair. All that background pain has pushed itself to the fore of my psyche.” Since the incident, Kelly has obtained a concealed carry permit for North Carolina. “All I have ever wanted is to feel safe. Safe in my own home," she further added in her Facebook post.