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FKA Twigs says it’s a miracle she ‘came out alive’ amid Shia LaBeouf abuse claims

FKA Twigs has opened up about her allegedly abusive relationship with Shia LaBeouf.


by Jennifer McShane
20th Feb 2021
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The British singer, whose real name is Tahlia Barnett, filed a lawsuit against LaBeouf last year in which she accused him of sexual battery, assault, and infliction of emotional distress.

The lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, says LaBeouf knowingly gave Barnett a sexually transmitted disease and accuses him of “relentless abuse,” including sexual battery, assault and infliction of emotional distress.

The actor has since denied all the allegations in the lawsuit, and while we can’t know exactly what occurred between the couple, at this stage, everyone knows enough about the #MeToo movement to deduce that powerful men in the entertainment business can and do go to great lengths to cover up past instances of abusive behaviour. And women in the industry are unlikely to be believed – and they usually don’t think they will be – this is why she is speaking out about the alleged incidences in such detail.

“I’d like to be able to raise awareness on the tactics that abusers use to control you and take away your agency.”

She detailed some of her trauma, including how the abuse began. On a Valentine’s Day getaway in 2019, Barnett said she was awoken to LaBeouf choking her and was “paralysed with fear.”

He later drove wildly and threatened to crash his car if she did not profess eternal love for him and when she tried to get out of the car and get away from him at a petrol station, he slammed her against the car, tried to strangle her and forced her to get back in, she alleged in the same lawsuit.

She told the publication, the abuse she allegedly received at the hands of Shia LaBeouf was, “the worst thing in the whole of my life,” adding: “Recovering has been the hardest thing I’ve ever tried to do,” and is described as being visibly distressed while doing so.

“I was thinking to myself, ‘I wonder what would happen to my body… if (we) smashed into a wall at 80 miles per hour?’” she told Elle.

Victim blaming 

And this week she had a defiant response to a question posed to her by Gayle King during her first TV interview about the topic, and addresses the same question in Elle, the one always asked of any female victim who speaks out about their experience of abuse: Why didn’t you just leave?

As if it’s that simple, as if it’s their fault – it’s a classic victim-blaming question.

On CBS This Morning, she was asked by King: “Nobody who’s been in this position likes this question, and I often wonder if it’s even appropriate to ask… why didn’t you leave?”

Twigs then replied: “I know that you’re asking it out of love, but like, I’m just going to make a stance and say I’m not going to answer that question anymore because the question should really be to the abuser: ‘Why are you holding someone hostage with abuse?’”

“People wouldn’t think that it would happen to a woman like me,” she added when speaking to Elle about the topic.

“The biggest misconception is, ‘Well, you’re smart. If it was that bad, why didn’t you leave?’”

“[But] it can happen to anyone.”

She explained that lockdown made her realise she needed to speak publically with the news emerging that so many women were stuck inside and in many cases left to endure similar abuse due to the pandemic. “It made me realise I need to come forward and talk about my experience,” she said.

When pressed by the New York Times, LaBeouf, who has had other former partners describe described similar tumultuous experiences during the course of their relationships with him, said,  “many of these allegations are not true, but he owed the women “the opportunity to air their statements publicly and accept accountability for those things I have done.”

These allegations may not come as a surprise; the actor has a troubled history involving exchanges with the law and it emerged that he was apparently fired from Olivia Wilde’s Don’t Worry Darling, the follow-up to the director’s widely acclaimed Booksmart for, “displaying poor behaviour.” Netflix also refused to include any still of the actor in promotional material for Pieces of a Woman which he co-starred in with Vanessa Kirby.

Asked how she survived the relationship, Barnett then told the magazine: “I think it’s luck. I honestly wish I could say that I found some strength and I saw this light. I wish I could say, ‘(It is) a testament to my strong character,’ or ‘It’s the way my mother raised me.’ It’s none of that. It’s pure luck that I’m not in that situation anymore.”