The actress, 43, made the admission while opening about suffering years of sexual abuse that included being raped aged 12 by her brother’s older friend – something she first revealed in her memoir last year.

She said the trauma made it easier to play sex-obsessed teen Angela Hayes in 1999’s Oscar-winning film American Beauty, and told how she would go home to an abusive relationship after shooting.

She said her romantic relationship off-set was ‘the worst’ of her life, adding: ‘I was being extremely abused. It was very dark for me at that time, (and work) felt like a respite, because I could go to work and be important there. I wasn’t called a “r*****” and an “idiot”.’

Mena told The Guardian: ‘I identified with Angela. I knew how to play that role, because I was so schooled in it. “Oh, you want me to be sexually attractive?” Done. I felt unavailable in a million other ways, but I knew how to play that card.’

Mena said her partner would tell her how stupid she was, call her names and force her into sexual activities so traumatic they left her requiring medical treatment. She added that she was being loved, but she was just a receptacle for her abuser’s desires.

Mena said he would ask her to pick up other women to have threesomes with, including those she met on set. When she ran into one of the women on a separate occasion she approached her.

Mena, who has son Christopher, 15 months, with set designer Michael Hope, previously detailed her years of abuse in her memoir The Great Peace. It detailed how a friend of one of her older brothers wrote her love letters, before raping her several times at his house.

She also told The Guardian that it confirmed no one was ever going to save her or do anything for her.When she was treated for a bladder infection as a result of the rapes, the doctor put her on contraception instead of asking her about what was happening to her.

Mena added: ‘I said, “I want you to know that I never wanted to do any of those things. She was surprised. She said, “Oh, he told me you wanted to do that”.’ The star said it was a huge eye opener for her. how she was manipulated and had no idea and that she had been swallowed up by the circumstances of her life.

She said times were different then and she was treated like an adult despite being so young.  

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