“Everyone deserves to be loved void of violence, fear and physical harm,” Benoist said
Melissa Benoist is coming forward with a painful revelation about her past.
In a lengthy, emotional video on Instagram on Wednesday, the Supergirl actress, 31, revealed that she was a survivor of domestic violence after enduring months of abuse from a younger romantic partner.
“I am a survivor of domestic violence or IPV (intimate partner violence), which is something I never in my life expected I would say, let alone be broadcasting into the ether,” she confessed in the video.
Throughout the video, Benoist did not name the alleged abuser.
Benoist described her ex-partner as a “magnanimous person, who didn’t really give you a choice not to be drawn to him,” and said, “he could be charming, funny, manipulative, [and]devious.”
The Glee alum noted that her alleged abuser was younger than her, but that he displayed an obvious maturation for his age, and claimed their relationship changed once they shifted from being friends to romantic partners.
“For a period of time, I wasn’t interested. I was newly single, gaining my bearing in a period of change in my life, making dumb decisions,” Benoist explained. “But in the midst of that, he became a friend. A friend that made me laugh and made me feel less alone, made me feel special and worthwhile, and then once we started dating, it was a zero to 60 catapult.”
Despite feeling confused about the way her partner treated her, Benoist admitted that it “felt very good how much he coveted me” and “how much he seemed to treasure who I was.”
“He loved me. I thought I loved him, and I was going to make it work,” she said.
The actress claimed the abuse was “not violent at first” — noting how his behaviors primarily stemmed from jealousy where he would snoop on her electronic devices, get angry when she spoke to another male and force her to change clothes when she went out.
Slowly, things between the pair started to progress for the worst and negatively affect Benoist’s career.
“Work, in general, was a touchy subject,” she admitted. “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.”
Even with those controlling behaviors, Benoist admitted that “none of that registered as abuse because I was worried about how he felt at that point.”
“In retrospect, I see that each red flag followed a very clear path on things becoming violent,” she revealed.
Around five months into their relationship, Benoist said her partner’s actions started to become more violent and physical, with the first occurrence being a smoothie thrown at her face.
The actress admitted she never said anything about the violent encounter out of fear and shame and revealed that her partner continued to abuse her — disturbing experiences that Benoist went on to describe.
“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, head-butted, pinched until my skin broke, shoved into a wall so hard the drywall broke, choked,” she revealed. “I learned to lock myself in rooms but quickly stopped because the door was inevitably broken down. I learned to not value any of my property — replaceable and irreplaceable. I learned not to value myself.”
After one particular attack, Benoist said her partner put her in a bathtub with the faucet running and left the room before returning to apologize — an action she claimed he did often.
“Deep down I never believed he would change, I just fooled myself into thinking I could help him,” she admitted. “Someone had to let him know his behavior wasn’t okay, and who better than the one he was taking it out on?”
His violent behaviors also affected Benoist’s persona, she said.
“I have changed and I’m not proud of how I changed,” she said. “I became a person I could have never imagined lurked inside of me. I was livid at what was happening and that fact that I was allowing it to out of the fear of failure. I experienced firsthand that violence begets violence. I started fighting back because rage is contagious.”
“I developed an astonishing poker face. Inwardly I was the ugliest version of myself I had ever known,” she continued. “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. If you met me at this time, I was most likely friendly, just to the point of getting close and aloof to the point of getting cold.”
But it wasn’t until her partner allegedly threw an iPhone at her face, causing the star to suffer major injuries, that she realized that she had to take action, despite her fear and worry to do so.
“The impact tore my iris, nearly ruptured my eyeball, lacerated my skin and broke my nose,” she recalled. “My left eye swelled shut. I had a fat lip … Something inside of me broke, this was too far.”
“This is an injury that’s never going to fully heal, my vision is never going to be the same,” the star continued. “Whatever I thought love was, it certainly wasn’t what I had been going through. I was so tired of living the way I had been living, but it felt too late to get out. Would it be safe to leave?”
After lying to the nurses about her injuries at the hospital, Benoist said she confided in a friend who asked about her partner’s aggressive behaviors and finally made the difficult decision to leave him.
“Leaving was not a walk in the park. It is not an event, it’s a process. I felt complicated feelings of guilt for leaving and for hurting someone I had protected for so long, and yes, [a]mournful feeling of leaving something familiar,” she explained. “But luckily, the people I let in, the more I was bolstered, I never lost the sense of clarity that kept telling me, ‘You do not deserve this.’”
“None of this is salacious news, it was my reality,” she went on. “What I went through caused a tectonic shift in my outlook on life … Breaking that cycle was the most rewarding, empowering choice I have ever made for myself. I feel an enduring strength and self-assurance that has dug its roots deep within me. I will be healing from this for the rest of my life. And that’s okay.”
Finishing her emotional revelation, Benoist said she hopes by sharing her story, it will prevent others from enduring the same form of abuse — something she pointed out was experienced by one in four men and one in four women, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
“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.”
Benoist also posted on Instagram after the video went live, reminding her followers that there is “strength in numbers.”
“The long and winding road of healing and reconciliation has brought me to this moment where I feel strong enough to talk about my experience openly, honestly and without shame,” she 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.”
Benoist was previously married to her Glee costar Blake Jenner, 27, for a little over a year. She is currently married to her Supergirl costar, Chris Wood, 31, whom she wed in September.
If you are experiencing domestic violence, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233, or go to thehotline.org. All calls are toll-free and confidential. The hotline is available 24/7 in more than 170 languages.