It’s been over a decade since Hilarie Burton starred on One Tree Hill, but many memories – both happy and upsetting – remain with the actress.
In Burton’s new memoir, The Rural Diaries, the actress opened up about her family and her life on a 100-acre farm in the Hudson Valley. However, despite all the positives surrounding her, she also delved into the abuse she suffered will on the hit CW teen drama series.
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“I had such strong relationships on the show and I still do,” Burton, who starred on the show for six years before she left in 2009, told PEOPLE. “There was so much good. But there was bad too.”
In 2017, she, along with several of her former costars and One Tree Hill crew members, came forward about the alleged sexual abuse and harassment they endured at the hands of the show’s creator Mark Schwahn.
Burton recalled being “groomed,” by the series creator on set, whom she said in 2017 was verbally abusive, touched her inappropriately, and kissed her against her will. (Schwahn has not commented on the allegations and was fired from his role as showwrunner on The CW in 2017.)
However, despite the scary situation, the actress, then in her early 20s, didn’t formally complain about her boss and his behavior.
“I was told that if you speak up, your career is over,” Burton said. “You’ll be labeled a troublemaker.”
As a result, “I didn’t say anything for a decade,” the actress explained. “And as a result of that, people were abused after me. The guilt that comes with that is really difficult.”
But now, she admits, “I’ll always be angry” about the abuse she endured on set. However, she’s now focusing on imparting lessons she’s learned to her young daughter.
“It affects how I parent [George],” Burton, the mom of two – son Gus and daughter George, said. “She will never be a pleaser. If my daughter tells someone to f— off, awesome. I wish I had had the ability to do that.”
She also has conversations about her experience with her son Gus. “He knows something bad went down on that set and he asks me, ‘Why do you still do conventions for it? Why do you still talk about it?’ But I am making a decision as an adult to focus on the good, to focus on the fan base and the crew and the fact that I got to learn my craft every day,” she explained.
Burton continued, “It was a wonderful opportunity for me to stretch. And now that [the allegations] are out there, we all just get to collectively give this sigh of relief.”
In the end, Burton hopes “that kind of behavior is being flushed out of our industry.” However, just as the actress says, “there is still a lot of work to do.”
Hilarie Burton’s new memoir, The Rural Diaries, comes out on May 5.