The Tragic Real-Life Story Of Ashley Judd

Hollywood actress Ashley Judd has been a respectable name in the industry for several years. As per her IMDB profile, Judd is best known for her work in movies like Double Jeopardy, Heat, Bug, De-Lovely, and more. The actor was born in April 1968 in California and was raised among entertainers and professional artists. She's spent her life working hard on her acting career while chasing other gigs as a political figure and activist. 

What even many die-hard fans may not know about Judd is the fact that she's had a difficult life, filled with tragedies and difficult memories. She had a particularly tricky childhood, something that left an impact on her psyche and shaped her life as an adult. Judd has often spoken up about the things she's been through, letting her fans in on some of her most traumatic memories. For example, Judd never really got the privilege to enjoy a happy and safe childhood. Instead, she was forced to deal with neglect and loneliness, growing up without a strong support system. She has also often been treated unkindly by the media and members of the public in general, something that she's noticed herself. Despite everything, Judd remains strong and vocal about everything she's gone through.

Here's taking a look at some of the hardest things that the actor has revealed about her life over the years, including stories from her traumatic childhood, tales of being oppressed as an adult, and more. 

Ashley Judd had a really rough childhood

Ashley Judd wrote a memoir called All That Is Bitter And Sweet that gave readers insights into her difficult past. As per ABC News, the actor had to confront abuse and loneliness very early in life. She also mentioned that things were very uncertain for her, and that she went to a number of schools before she turned 18. Her mom, Naomi Judd, was part of a celebrated country duo with Ashley's half-sister, Wynonna, which meant that they traveled extensively. Traveling for work commitments was a necessary evil to keep the family's finances going even if it meant that Naomi wouldn't get to spend a lot of time around her daughter.

Around this time, Ashley was mostly around her dad. She experienced a series of traumatic incidents that left her deeply disturbed. She mentioned being abused by several men as a kid, including someone from her family. A journalist, Amy Palmer, said back then, "When you are trying to make it in show business, everything else falls by the wayside. She was left alone so much with her mother and sister touring the country to make it. Something suffers and it was Ashley's childhood."

She was involved with a conflict with her sister

Ashley Judd has never had a stable relationship with her sister, Wynonna Judd. The two have had conflicts for several years. As per US Weekly, in 2013, Ashley once openly accused her sister of being spiteful and spying on her. The actor was so flustered that she went straight to the cops after she found a spying device in her car, revealing that she believed Wynonna had chosen to act like that on account of a custody battle.

As per E Online, the device that was found in the actresses' car was basically a tracking device of some sort. No comments were available from the sisters' representatives, but it was clear that things weren't great between them. Wynonna and Ashley had been having trouble for many years, including when Wynonna didn't invite the actress to her 2012 wedding. 

Ashley Judd's marriage didn't last despite her best efforts

Ashley Judd married race-car driver Dario Franchitti in 2001 after dating him for a couple of years (via Closer Weekly). They spent quite some time together — 11 years to be precise. But things went awry, and they revealed that it was time for them to part ways in 2013. Their joint statement read, "We have mutually decided to end our marriage. We'll always be family and continue to cherish our relationship based on the special love, integrity and respect we have always enjoyed."

This wasn't the end of the story, though, and Judd tried to get back with her ex after he had a horrible crash in 2013. The incident shook her up, and she was convinced that she should give things another shot. However, despite trying really hard, Franchitti and Judd were unable to make it work. Judd didn't have hard feelings. She said, "Even before our wedding, we agreed not to tell people about our relationship, but to show them instead. What we're showing them now is we're human, we're family, and this is what family looks like."

Franchitti later met his current wife, Eleanor Robb, and tied the knot with her in 2014.

She has faced online abuse

Ashley Judd has often been attacked by online haters for her appearance, trolls who have accused her of modifying her looks through plastic surgery. As reported by Refinery29, when Sen. Elizabeth Warren added a video of Judd online in 2020, respondents reacted rather strongly and commented that she looked different. This had happened before with the actor, back in 2012. 

Back then, Judd had been accused of turning to plastic surgery. She wasn't pleased to hear that and wrote a strong defense. She stated that when she'd been violently ill and was taking medication such as steroids to cope, she was confronted with accusations of plastic surgery. She pointed out that many credible sources jumped to this conclusion and never tried to verify the rumors or get in touch with her (via the Daily Beast). She also wrote about being body shamed and being judged rather harshly for her appearance. She called such allegations misogynistic and insisted that it's necessary for us to be more responsible, kinder, and mindful. Her powerful statement read, "Who makes the fantastic leap from being sick, or gaining some weight over the winter, to a conclusion of plastic surgery? Our culture, that's who."

Ashley Judd has battled depression in the past

As far as mental health troubles are concerned, Ashley Judd has been fairly transparent about her rollercoaster journey and living with depression. In February 2006, the actress decided to seek professional help in a bid to cope with her health troubles. She spent time at a rehabilitation center in Texas where she was treated for 47 days (via People). "I needed help. I was in so much pain," the actress explained, adding that her turbulent childhood left behind many scars. 

She never even considered getting help until she was approached by counselors during a visit for an unrelated issue at the Shades of Hope Treatment Center in Texas. They advised her to seek help for her troubles. Judd said that the treatment was incredibly helpful. "I was unhappy, and now I'm happy," she reflected. "Now, even when I'm having a rough day, it's better than my best day before treatment."

Ashley Judd was assaulted more than once

As difficult as it was for her to be vocal, Ashley Judd chose to speak about some of the most difficult things she's been through, including being abused several times as an adult. As per The Guardian, she accused producer Harvey Weinstein of harassing her when she met him for work projects. She added that she wouldn't want anyone else to go through what she did, and said that she wanted to "go back with a magic wand. I wish I could prevent it for anyone, always."

As reported by E Online, Judd also spoke up about making the difficult decision to go through an abortion after being assaulted. She said, "As everyone knows, and I'm very open about it, I'm a three-time rape survivor. And one of the times I was raped, there was conception, and I'm very thankful I was able to access safe and legal abortion." She explained that the alternative was horrifying — co-parenting with her attacker. 

To Judd's credit, she's tried to lead the way for other women who may be hesitant to seek help and open up about their stories of assault.

She was pressured by Harvey Weinstein

Ashley Judd has been very clear about the fact that Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, who was convicted of sexual assault in 2020, pretty much tried to come in the way of her career and make life miserable for the actress. According to a Variety report, Judd went after the producer in court, stating that her refusal to entertain him meant that Weinstein made things difficult for her in the professional arena. 

She also issued a statement, shedding light on the issue. She said, "Mr. Weinstein's abusive conduct toward others has caused no end of damage to aspiring actors and others in the film and entertainment industry. As my experience and the experience of others shows, even a few false statements from Mr. Weinstein could destroy potentially career-changing professional opportunities." She added that it was important to punish Weinstein for the damage he's caused. 

Weinstein's spokesperson denied all the allegations and insisted that the producer had never tried to hurt Judd. While the 2018 case was initially closed, things changed for her in 2020 when a district court ruled that she had indeed been harassed by Weinstein and was free to pursue the case against the producer, per Variety. Judd's representative said that this was a major win for Judd and other women like her who were simply trying to seek justice. 

Ashley Judd experienced a painful accident

In February 2021, Ashley Judd spoke about meeting with a traumatic accident that left her with serious injuries. As per ABC News, Judd almost lost her legs in Congo after she suffered a fall in a rainforest. She had to be rescued, after having spent five agonizing hours waiting for help. The pain was immense, and it took her a lot of effort to stay strong at that point. Judd was on a research trip trying to locate bonobos in the forest. 

The experience that lasted 55 hours was horrifying for the actor, who said that she wondered whether she would've safely made it to safety if she wasn't a celebrity figure. She recently posted on her Instagram that she's still on her way to recovery. She said, "I do not understand why what has happened has happened. I do understand I have been loved and helped enormously. I understand nights are a savage agony." 

Doctors deduced that Judd had suffered internal bleeding, a broken leg, and nerve injuries. She is currently back in the United States and is being treated for her injuries. Interestingly, Wynonna Judd rushed to her sister's aid and is doing what she can to help through the process.

She's had chronic pain

Chronic pain isn't unfamiliar territory for Ashley Judd. As per Todaythe actor used to suffer from such terrible migraines and debilitating pain for extended periods of time that she was prompted to seek relief from her pain. She revealed that this is what made her decide to opt for botox which, according to her, is a "standard treatment" for the kind of pain she was going through. She also said her expenses were covered by insurance.

Judd also said that the pain she was under inadvertently contributed to her putting on some weight as well around that time. She said that this didn't bother her, and that she's able to take everything with a grain of salt because any comments were based on ridiculous "gendered norms." She said, "The good news for my empowered self is I don't take compliments any more seriously than I do slurs." 

Ashley Judd didn't succeed in politics

Ashley Judd didn't want to limit herself to acting and tried to reinvent herself in other spaces, including politics. Sadly, her political career never quite took off, and she didn't really manage to make a lasting impression on the public. As per the Huffington Post, she wanted to give the U.S. Senate a serious shot in 2014.

Many believed that she wasn't a good fit for the role, as she was far too liberal. They believed that she wouldn't receive the support that she needed from influential figures in Kentucky to truly win. She did get support from some truly formidable names, like former President Barack Obama, but things weren't straightforward for her. The president's aides didn't think highly of Judd at all. She was believed to be inexperienced for the role. While Judd was aware of everything, she still wanted to try running for the Senate but changed her mind later. 

Democratic Rep. John Yarmuth from Louisville, who was backing the actress, did have a few insights to offer. He said,  "I got the sense that she felt she needed to establish deeper roots in the state. I think she has already bought a house in Kentucky, and I definitely got the feeling that she wants to run, but isn't quite ready."

Ashley Judd is often misunderstood

As an actor and an activist, Ashley Judd isn't always understood by the public. In fact, there are times when her actions completely backfire, leading to more controversies. For instance, she was once severely criticized and received backlash for her comments on illegal sex work. Per Rolling Stone, the actress said that she's a supporter of a model that should make paying for sex illegal but not illegal to sell it. Her views were rather strong — she posted on Instagram about her thoughts on sex work and basically stated that sex-workers are "survivors" of illegal sex work who are also "saying #MeToo."

This irritated many folks who felt that she was spreading false information about sex work and what it means to provide consent. As far as she was concerned, Judd was simply being vocal about her views. She's a strong supporter of an organization called Demand Abolition that hopes to eliminate sex work completely. Those who criticize Judd's views believe that such viewpoints are a lot more harmful because the laws they're suggesting would make sex work much harder to navigate for professional sex workers. Writer Alison Bass explained that sex workers go to great lengths to screen their potential clients for their safety. She explained, "Laws criminalizing buyers would make such screening much more difficult — what buyer is going to readily divulge such culpable information — and thus jeopardize their ability to work safely."

She found it difficult to cope with the loss of her dog

Ashley Judd was extremely fond of her emotional support dog. According to the Christian Post, the actress was extremely moved by what her dog, Shug, was capable of doing. Shug was a constant companion for Judd and was around her a lot, including on movie sets. One time, Judd was taken aback when Shug managed to save a man at an airport. The stranger in question was writing his suicide letter but had a change of heart after he came across Shug. He told Judd, "I was writing my suicide note when your dog came up and just there with me, just being present and reminding me of my value."

This proved to be a turning point for the man who sought help for his mental health battles and also remained in touch with Judd. The actress said, "Today, he's in recovery and still sends me texts, updating me on his health. Shug was a remarkable dog. It's amazing how God works through dogs." 

Losing Shug was a huge blow for Judd, of course. But she couldn't help but appreciate all the lessons that her dog taught her during their time together. Judd particularly spoke about empathy and the value of listening without judgment, something that she definitely picked up for her former pet. As Judd remarked, "Dogs practice presence. They love us exactly as we are."