Late last year, singer and entertainer Tahliah “FKA Twigs” Barnett made some damning accusations against her ex-boyfriend, actor Shia LaBeouf. In an interview The New York Times, she detailed not only the emotional, physical and sexual abuse, she announced that she was suing him and plans to donate a significant portion of the funds to organizations that raise awareness about domestic violence.
When the claims were initially brought to the public, LaBeouf denied that all of them were true but did take responsibility for some of his actions saying, “I have no excuses for my alcoholism or aggression, only rationalizations. I have been abusive to myself and everyone around me for years. I have a history of hurting the people closest to me. I’m ashamed of that history and am sorry to those I hurt. There is nothing else I can really say.”
Later, LaBeouf’s team came out and denied all of Barnett’s allegations, even claiming that he only attacked her as a form of self-defense .
Recently, Barnett spoke to CBS This Morning’s Gayle King to not only detail the abuse but also raise awareness about the cycle of domestic violence. During the course of their interview, she also shared a teachable moment with King and anyone else who has ever thought to ask domestic violence survivors why they didn’t leave.
See what she had to say below.
Early warning signs
In the beginning, he would jump over the fence where I was staying and leave flowers outside my door, poems and books. I thought it was very romantic but that quickly changed. I understand now, that’s testing your boundaries. Instead of thinking that’s nice to have flowers outside your door, now I think that’s inappropriate to jump over the fence of where I’m living. That’s breaking a boundary.
It’s very subtle. It’s a real gradual, step by step process where people lose themselves so much that they feel like they deserve to be treated in that way. It’s not one thing. It’s loads of tiny little things that get sewn together into a nightmare.
What is Love bombing?
Putting me on a pedestal, telling me that I’m amazing, over the top displays of affection just to knock me off the pedestal to tell me that I was worthless, to criticize me to berate me, pick me apart. Some of the worst times I experienced in that relationship was when he felt like he was losing control of me and like I was trying to get out.
Abusers use gaslighting which is where somebody minimizes your experience, altering your narrative, not listening to you and denying your experience. And eventually it did become physical. There were certain instances where he would push me and say, ‘You fell.’ I would get really confused and think maybe I did…
Then he’d only want me to sleep naked because he said if I didn’t, I was keeping myself from him. It’s a tactic a lot of abusers use, this constant availability and everything centered around them. That’s why I wanted to come out and talk about this because the signs really are there from the beginning.
Filing the lawsuit
I didn’t want to originally. I wanted to ensure that he got help privately so that he wouldn’t hurt anyone else the way he hurt me. I wanted him to donate money to charity. Because when I called the helpline, it was a moment of changing for me.
Gayle: If he had done the things that you had asked, you would not be filing the lawsuit?
FKA Twigs: No.
Why didn’t she leave
Gayle: Nobody who’s been in this position likes this question and I often wonder, is it even an appropriate question to ask. And you know the question is, ‘Why didn’t you leave?’
FKA Twigs: I think we just have to stop asking that question. I know that you’re asking it out of love. But I’m just going to make a stance and say I’m not going to answer it anymore because the question should really be to the abuser, ‘Why are you holding someone hostage with abuse?’
And people often say, ‘Well, it couldn’t have been that bad or else she would have left.’ And it’s like no, because it was that bad, I couldn’t leave.
What she makes of LaBeouf’s statement
It reminds of some of the gaslighting that I experienced when I was with him, the sort of taking some of the blame but not all of it and then denying it.
What she hopes will come out of speaking out
The result for me Is already happening. I just couldn’t carry it anymore. I felt like I was cracking. Whereas now I feel like I’ve handed his dysfunction back to him and it’s his…I’m feeling brave.
You can watch the full interview in the video below.