FKA Twigs is suing actor and former boyfriend Shia LaBeouf for “relentless abuse” inflicted upon her during the course of their nearly-yearlong relationship, according to The New York Times and Variety.
In the lawsuit, filed in the Los Angeles Superior Court, Twigs (whose real name is Tahliah Debrett Barnett) accuses LaBeouf of sexual battery, assault, and infliction of emotional distress, the Times reports.
“I’d like to be able to raise awareness on the tactics that abusers use to control you and take away your agency,” Barnett told the Times. In the court filing, she cites a 2019 incident with LaBeouf during a road trip in California. “I just thought to myself, no one is ever going to believe me,” she told the paper. “I’m unconventional. And I’m a person of color who is a female.”
LaBeouf addressed his behavior in a statement to the newspaper. “I’m not in any position to tell anyone how my behavior made them feel,” he said. “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.”
When presented with a detailed account of the claims from interviews and within the lawsuit, however, LaBeouf told the Times that “many of these allegations are not true.” He added that he owed the women “the opportunity to air their statements publicly and accept accountability for those things I have done,” and that he was “a sober member of a 12-step program” and in therapy. “I am not cured of my PTSD and alcoholism,” he added in an emailed response to the outlet, “but I am committed to doing what I need to do to recover, and I will forever be sorry to the people that I may have harmed along the way.”
Part of Barnett’s alleged experience with LaBeouf came as she was finishing her critically acclaimed and second studio album, Magdalene, and professional colleagues recalled a shift in her own attitude and behavior. Michael Stirton, her manager, told the Times, “Twigs is always the driving force behind her career—always a step ahead of everyone else. This was an extreme change in her personality and character. … I could speak to her. But I couldn’t reach her.”
“The whole time I was with him, I could have bought myself a business-flight plane ticket back to my four-story townhouse in Hackney,” Barnett said to the Times, speaking to her own dramatic transformation that the experience had wrought onto her. “He brought me so low, below myself, that the idea of leaving him and having to work myself back up just seemed impossible,” she explained.
“What I went through with Shia was the worst thing I’ve ever been through in the whole of my life,” she additionally told the Times. “I don’t think people would ever think that it would happen to me. But I think that’s the thing. It can happen to anybody.”
Barnett says in the lawsuit that she plans to donate a significant portion of any monetary damages to charities that focus on domestic violence.
In the United States, more than one in three women experience intimate partner violence, according to The Hotline. And as the COVID-19 pandemic forces many to remain home or enter financially dire circumstances, cases of domestic violence have risen worldwide.
“I hope that by sharing my experience I can truly help others feel like they are not alone and shed some light on how those who are worried somebody they care about may be in an abusive relationship can help because I understand it can be confusing and hard to know what to do,” she wrote of the lawsuit on Instagram.
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