Supergirl's Melissa Benoist opens up about surviving domestic abuse in powerful video

28 November 2019, 12:24

By Sam Prance

#IStandWithMelissa began trending online after Melissa Benoist spoke about being a victim of Intimate Partner Violence.

CONTENT WARNING: This article may be triggering if you or anyone you know has experienced domestic violence and abuse.

Melissa Benoist has taken to Instagram to speak out against domestic abuse and open up about her own experience of IPV.

In an IGTV live last night (Nov 27), the Supergirl actress said: "I am a survivor of domestic violence. She then spoke in detail about the partner who abused her: "He was a magnanimous person, who didn't really give you a choice not to be drawn to him. He could be charming, funny, manipulative, devious. He was younger than me, his immaturity obvious. He became a friend. And then once we started dating, it was a 0-60 catapult."

Melissa then spoke in-depth about how the abuse escalated from verbal and emotional abuse into physical violence.

Supergirl star Melissa Benoist opens up about being a domestic abuse survivor
Supergirl star Melissa Benoist opens up about being a domestic abuse survivor. Picture: Tommaso Boddi/Getty Images, @melissabenoist via Instagram

Melissa explained: "There was a lot of jealousy, he was snooping on devices. There was anger when I spoke to another man. I had to change clothes often before we went out because he didn't want people looking at me." She then opened up about how it affected her work: "He didn't want me kissing or having flirtatious scenes with men, which was very hard for me to avoid so I began turning down auditions, job offers, friendships because I didn't want to hurt him."

Melissa then spoke about the violence: "It started about five months after our relationship began and the violence escalated about as quickly as the relationship had. The first time it happened, he threw a smoothie at my face. It smacked my cheek and 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. I was more worried about the furniture than the fact that I had just been abused"

She added: "It had to be secret for shame, for fear of more attacks, for reluctance to actually admit any of it was happening. The stark truth is I learned what it felt like to be pinned down, 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."

Melissa continued: "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. Most vividly, I remember how the arguments would usually end. There would always be a click of reality snapping back into place when he would see what he had done and a wave of guilt would wash over him."

Shen then said: "I fooled myself into believing, I could help him. I thought that I could love him enough to make him see that violence was not the way you handled emotions. I constantly deluded myself into thinking that forgiveness would heal him enough to make him stop. I made up stories of how bruises and scratches were born. I knew how he was treating me was wrong but I thought the consequences he would suffer if I exposed his behaviour outweighed suffering threw it."

Melissa went on to explain the worst injury she received: "And then he threw something at my face again only this time it was significantly worse. It was a blow to my face with his iPhone. The impact tore my iris. It nearly ruptured my eyeball, lacerated my skin and broke my nose. My left eye swelled shut, I had a fat lip, blood was coursing down my face and I can remember immediately screaming at the top of my lungs."

Melissa added: "The next morning I was due to work on reshoots for a film. Something inside of me broke. We made up a flimsy story together. I had tripped and fallen on the stairs of our deck and hit my face on a potted plant. "

Melissa recounted this exact story on Jimmy Fallon in 2016. She didn't mention anyone by name, but she was married to her Glee co-star Blake Jenner at the time. She was in a relationship with Blake between 2013 and 2017.

Melissa then explained how she got the courage to leave her abusive partner. She said: "A friend reached out. She was nervous shaking, afraid that it would ruin our relationship but she bravely asked me if I was a victim of domestic violence. It was the first moment I spoke about it to anybody and I can't describe, the amount of relief and solace I felt. She held me and she said: 'You know what you have to do now, don't you?'"

Melissa continued: "I felt complicated feelings for leaving and hurting someone I had protected for so long." However, she said: "Breaking that cycle was the most rewarding and powerful choice I have ever made for myself. I will be healing from this for the rest of my life but that's okay." She then finished her live by saying: "I hope that telling my story might prevent more stories like mine from happening.

Melissa also took to Instagram to explain that "1 in 4 women" are victims of domestic violence. She also wrote: "By sharing my story, hopefully I can empower others to seek help and extricate themselves from abusive relationships. Everyone deserves to be loved void of violence, fear and physical harm."

Shortly, after Melissa posted her video #IStandWithMelissa began trending online.

Our thoughts are with Melissa and all victims and survivors of domestic violence.

If you or anyone you know requires support and advice on domestic violence against women or men, you can visit the Women's Aid website and the Men's Advice Line website