The star played a journalist who begins to question her childhood relationships with her riding instructor and running coach while making a documentary about child rape, and she now reveals that the film opened up memories of things that had happened to her.
"I started making movies as an 11-year-old, so I was on location at 13," she tells Vanity Fair. "I remember every compromised situation. I was a child, and adults took advantage of me or tried, and I justified the behaviour as me misunderstanding it."
Laura first opened up about her own experience with sexual assault in 2017 after her "Big Little Lies" co-star Reese Witherspoon made a sexual assault revelation at Elle's Women in Hollywood event. Dern has never gone into specific detail about what happened to her and she insists victims shouldn't be made to feel they should come forward with stories.
"No one has to speak about their experience," she says. "It's also remarkably brave to sit in your own home and look in the mirror and say: this is the truth of what happened. I will tell you I experienced everything barring assault. I mean, there were a million of these circumstances...".
"What director or casting director needs a 13-year-old to go to the Chateau to audition in a room, sitting on a bed beside the director, to read a scene together alone? You just don't create that scenario. There was behaviour that was definitely the worst kind of behaviour that somehow I got myself out of or someone stopped it."
The 51-year-old also explains that because her parents, Diane Ladd and Bruce Dern, were actors and she was protected, she didn't always realise when she was in an inappropriate situation.
"The tragedy of my life is that when things were in the grey, I didn't know they were wrong," she adds. "I didn't know I was entitled to say something as simple as 'I feel a little uncomfortable. Can someone else be in the room?' or 'No, I don't want to come with you to get a book you're going to give me as a wrap present in your hotel room'. Or, you know, that ultimate grooming line for young girls... 'I see you, and I understand you like nobody else does'."