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Supergirl’s Melissa Benoist reveals she is a “survivor of domestic violence”

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Jessica Rapana
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The actor described the toxic relationship as a “runaway freight train” in a 14-minute video on Instagram.

Supergirl star Melissa Benoist has revealed she is a “survivor of domestic violence”.

In a 14-minute video posted on IGTV, titled “Life Isn’t Always What it Seems”, the actor reads aloud a letter she has written: “I am a survivor of domestic violence or IPV (intimate partner violence), which is something I never through I would say let alone be broadcasting into the ether.”

Benoist describes how the relationship with her abuser began, the violence that ensued and and her eventual escape. She does not name her abuser, who she describes as “charming, funny, manipulative, devious”.

The pair were friends before they started dating, she says, but the relationship immediately felt like a “runaway freight train”. The abuse started as emotional manipulation, she alleges, including jealousy, monitoring her devices and asking her to change her clothes.

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Work was also “a touchy subject” and her partner would get angry when she did romantic scenes at work, she says. “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.”

The violence began about five months into the relationship, she says, when her partner allegedly threw a smoothie at her face. However, she kept the incident a secret out of shame, fear and not wanting to admit what was happening. “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 me skin broke, slammed against the wall so hard the drywall broke, choked.”

After each incident, her partner would put her in an empty bathtub, turn on the faucet and leave the room, before later bringing out the “typical abuser’s apology”, she says.

During another incident, she alleges that her partner threw an iPhone at her face, breaking her nose and irreparably rupturing her vision, which, she says, became a turning point. While she lied to police and nurses about how she got the injuries, she later mustered up the courage to confide in a friend, and “the more people I let in, the more I was bolstered”. She broke off the relationship soon after. 

She adds: “Something inside of me broke, this was too far, I couldn’t flush this one down.”

The actor says her story is not “salacious news” but “was my reality”, adding, “what I went through caused a tectonic shift on my outlook on life.”

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 the statistics to change and I hope by telling my story might prevent more stories like mine from happening,” Benoist says. “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.”

If you are experiencing domestic violence or know someone who is, help is available. Contact the 24-hour National Domestic Violence Freephone Helpline on 0808 2000 247 for advice and support, or visit the Women’s Aid or Refuge websites.  

Image: Getty

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Jessica Rapana

Jessica Rapana is a journalist based in London, and enjoys writing across all areas of women’s lifestyle content. She is especially fond of news, health, entertainment and travel content, and drinks coffee like a Gilmore Girl.

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