Meryl Streep has revealed she has twice dealt with violent incidents, adding that the experience was so profound it changed her "on a cellular level".
Ms Streep, 68, recounted two incidents, one in which she said she was attacked and "played dead and waited until the blows stopped."
Ms Streep then described another incident when someone else was being abused.
She said in that case, she "went completely nuts" and chased the man off.
She added that the experiences had changed her permanently.
The actress did not give any more details, other than to say Cher witnessed the second incident.
The Oscar-winning actress made the remarks at a press freedom awards event in New York
She praised journalists for their bravery at the Committee to Protect Journalists' 27th annual international press freedom awards, telling the audience she did "know something about real terror".
Last month Ms Streep spoke out about abuse within the entertainment industry in the wake of numerous allegations of sexual assault made against producer Harvey Weinstein.
Ms Streep, who has worked with Mr Weinstein on a number of films, including August: Osage County and The Iron Lady, once even referred to him as a “God”.
Ms Streep said she knew nothing of the allegations against Mr Weinstein or the financial settlements he made with women who had accused him of assault, but praised the bravery of the women who had come forward.
In a lengthy statement she said: “The behavior is inexcusable, but the abuse of power familiar.
"Each brave voice that is raised, heard and credited by our watchdog media will ultimately change the game.”
Ms Streep has previously been reported to have experienced inappropriate sexual behaviour within the industry.
A 1979 article by Time Magazine quoted the actress relating a meeting with Dustin Hoffman to audition for a play he was directing.
The article quoted Ms Streep as saying: "He came up to me and said, 'I'm Dustin-burp-Hoffman,' and he put his hand on my breast.
"'What an obnoxious pig', I thought".
A spokesperson for the actress said the article was inaccurate but added: "There was an offense and it is something for which Dustin apologized. And Meryl accepted that."
Mr Hoffman has never publicly responded to the article.