The New York Times just published an explosive and horrifying report detailing the claims of physical, emotional, and mental abuse at the heart of a lawsuit FKA twigs just filed against Shia LaBeouf, her ex-boyfriend of nearly a year. The lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles, accuses him of “relentless abuse,” including sexual battery, assault and infliction of emotional distress.
The musician, born Tahliah Debrett Barnett, told the Times she wanted to come forward to empower other victims. “I’d like to be able to raise awareness on the tactics that abusers use to control you and take away your agency,” she said.
The incidents Barnett detailed to the Times are harrowing. She recounts a time the couple was driving back to L.A. from the desert just after Valentines Day 2019, and LaBeouf threatened to crash the car unless Barnett professed her love for him. When she begged to be let out of the vehicle, the actor eventually pulled over at a gas station and physically assaulted Barnett, slamming her against the side of the car while screaming at her.
In the lawsuit, Barnett says LaBeouf would also grab or squeeze her until she bruised. She learned to keep her eyes averted when talking to men since the actor didn’t like it when she looked at male waiters, for example. LaBeouf had rules about how many times Barnett had to kiss and show him affection, which he enforced with degrading criticism.
Even though she was a successful recording artist with the means to extricate herself from the abusive relationship, Barnett told the Times she felt incapable of leaving, because escaping felt “both difficult and dangerous.” Only after she succeeded did she realize how thoroughly LaBeouf had broken her down.
The actor has a history of violent, erratic behavior. He told the Times that many of the allegations in the lawsuit against him aren’t true. But he issued the following statement in an email: “I’m not in any position to tell anyone how my behavior made them feel. 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.”
Barnett plans to donate a significant chuck of any monetary damages from the lawsuit to domestic-violence charities. “What I went through with Shia was the worst thing I’ve ever been through in the whole of my life,” she said. “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.”