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Supergirl star Melissa Benoist is speaking out about domestic violence after what she describes as months of domestic abuse.
In a vulnerable, 14-minute Instagram video posted Wednesday, the actor declared upfront, “I am a survivor of domestic violence, or IPV, intimate partner violence.”
In the story, Benoist, 31, describes meeting the alleged perpetrator at a time in her life when she had just gotten out of a relationship and wasn’t eager to get into another. After becoming friends, she says, they started dating and the relationship immediately felt like a “runaway freight train.” She says the abuse began as emotional manipulation, and that her partner was often jealous, looked at her devices, got angry when she spoke to other men, asked her to change clothes so others wouldn’t look at her and got angry when she did romantic scenes at work.
“Work in general was a touchy subject,” she said. “He didn’t want me ever kissing or even having flirtatious scenes with men, which was very hard for me to avoid, so I began turning down auditions, job offers, test deals and friendships, because I didn’t want to hurt him.”
Benoist never named the abuser. She only describes the alleged perpetrator as being younger than her. She has been linked to photographer Nick Vorderman, 37, was married to actor Blake Jenner, 27, for over a year and is now married to actor Chris Wood, 31.
The first incident of violence occurred five months in, she says in the video, when the partner allegedly threw a smoothie at her face. She kept the incident a secret out of shame, fear of again being abused and reluctance to admit it was happening to her. “I learned what it felt like to be pinned down and slapped repeatedly, punched so hard I felt the wind go out of me, dragged by my hair across pavement, head-butted, pinched until my skin broke, slammed against the wall so hard the drywall broke, choked,” she said. When she locked herself in rooms, she said, the door was broken down, and she learned not to value property or “myself.”
After a violent attack, the alleged perpetrator would put her in a bathtub and turn on the faucet before leaving the room, only to later return and apologize. She says she stayed because “Deep down I never believed he would change, I just fooled myself into thinking I could help him…. Someone had to let him know his behavior wasn’t OK, and who better than the one he was taking it out on?”
Benoist then describes how she herself became violent to fend off the attacks: “I changed and I’m not proud of how I changed,” she said.
A turning point occurred when the partner threw an iPhone at her face, allegedly tearing her iris to the point where it nearly ruptured her eyeball and breaking her nose, an injury such that her vision changed forever. She lied to the nurses and police about how she got the injuries but soon mustered the courage to be able to confide in a friend who asked her about her partner’s controlling behavior. “The more people I let in, the more I was bolstered,” she said. She says she then broke off relations with the partner.
Ending her story, Benoist says, “None of this is salacious news, it was my reality. What I went through caused a tectonic shift in my outlook on life.”
She concludes that she wanted to tell her story because IPV is a chronically underreported crime. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, one in four women and one in four men have experienced some kind of violence from their partners; one in seven women and one in 25 men have been injured by their partners. “I want those statistics to change, and I hope that telling my story will prevent more stories like this from happening,” she said. “If you are enduring what I went through and you see this, you might be able to find the tiny straw that will break the camel’s back.”
In late-night appearances, Benoist often told stories about being “accident-prone,” and in one 2016 appearance on The Tonight Show chalked up an eye injury extremely similar to the iPhone incident to falling down a flight of stairs and hitting her eye on a potted plant. “I looked like Squirt from Finding Nemo,” she told host Jimmy Fallon, which is what she said her alleged abuser had told her following the injury in her latest Instagram video.
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