Supergirl actress Melissa Benoist has revealed she is a survivor of domestic violence after claiming she suffered years of abuse at the hands of a former partner.
The former Glee star, 31, took to Instagram yesterday to speak out against her former partner, who she did not name, but described as "a magnanimous person who didn't give you a choice not to be drawn to him" and younger than she was.
"I am a survivor of domestic violence, or IPV, Intimate Partner Violence," she began, "which is something I never in my life expected, I would say, let alone broadcasting into the ether."
Benoist went on to describe how she entered into a relationship with her former partner following a "period of change" in her life.
"The abuse was not violent at first," she said. "It reared its head at me under the guise of common dysfunction, coming from his insecurity and depression.
"There was a lot of jealousy. He was snooping on devices, he was angry when I spoke to another man. I had to change clothes often before we went out because he didn't want any people looking at me."
Benoist said work in general was "a touchy subject", describing how her former partner criticising her for dancing with a coworker on her birthday, or filming scenes involving kissing and flirting with other men.
"I began turning down auditions, job offers, test reels, friendships because I didn't want to hurt him," she said. "None of that registered as abuse, because I was worried how he felt at that point to even comprehend how it affected me.
She said the abuse started around five months after their relationship began, with the violence "escalating just as quickly as the relationship had".
She said the first time she was physically abused, he threw a smoothie at her face, smacking her cheek as its contents "exploded all over the floor and the sofa".
"I ran to grab paper towels, rushing back because I was so worried about cleaning the couch than the fact that it was all over my face, my hair, my clothes and that my cheek was painfully throbbing.
"I was more worried about the furniture than I was about the fact that I had just been abused."
Benoist said she soon learned what it felt like to be abused.
"The stark truth is, I learned what it felt like to be pinned down and slapped repeatedly, punched so hard the wind was knocked out of me, dragged by my hair across pavement, headbutted, pinched 'til my skin broke, shoved into a wall so hard the drywall broke, choked.
"I learned to lock myself in rooms but quickly stopped because the door was inevitably broken down. I learned not to value any of my property - replaceable and irreplaceable. I learned not to value myself."
She also described how he would apologise afterwards, gathering his bearings after placing her in the bathtub with the water running and, with it,
"I would pull down the drain the bathtub and down the pipes, the arguments would go with its indecency, humiliation, sorrow, rage and myself. I went down that drain every time he put me in the tub."
Some months, she said, there would be a month or two without violence. During this time, she also "learned firsthand that violence begets violence" and "started fighting back, because rage is contagious".
"I became unreliable, unprofessional, sometimes unreachable. There were stretches of weeks where I wouldn't get out of bed for more than two hours a day ... It was as if I split in two, spinning plates to maintain a false image versus the truth I was living, another performance of sorts."
She also described how she would lie to people in her inner circle, making up "stories of how bruises and scratches were born."
In another incident, her former partner threw his iPhone at her face, breaking her nose and almost rupturing her eyeball the day before she was to work on re-shoots for a film. The injury will never fully heal, permanently affecting her vision.
"The impact tore my iris, nearly ruptured by eyeball, lacerated my skin and broke my nose," she said. "My left eye swelled shut, I had a fat lip, blood was coursing down my face and I can immediately remember screaming at the top of my lungs."
"After it happened, stillness blanketed the room. We panicked. He put me in the bathtub but this time, that wouldn't be enough - this wasn't going to be easy to hide, let alone fix and something inside of me broke.
"This was too far, I couldn't flush this one down with the tug of the drain."
Benoist described how they made up a story to explain the injury together, saying that she had "tripped and fallen down the stairs of our deck and hit my face on a potted plant". She also lied to the doctors and police officers who questioned her after he drove her to the hospital.
She finally decided to leave him after a friend reached out to discuss what was happening, calling breaking the cycle "the most rewarding and empowering choice I have ever made for myself".
"I will be healing from this for the rest of my life, and that's OK.
"It's estimated that one in four women in the US ages 18 and older will experience severe physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime ... I want the statistics to change and I hope that telling my story might help prevent more stories like mine from happening."