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CONTENT WARNING: This article contains details of domestic abuse and coercive control.

Back in December, FKA Twigs filed a suit against ex-partner Shia LaBeouf, suing him for undisclosed damages and claiming she was subjected to “relentless abuse” during their one-year relationship. And now the UK singer-songwriter, born Tahliah Barnett, has appeared on an episode of Louis Theroux‘s podcast Grounded to share more of her story.

As well as the sexual battery, assault and emotional distress claims put forward in her December 2020 court filing, FKA Twigs also took to Instagram at the time to share her story with her followers, in a powerful post detailing the “emotionally and physically abusive relationship” she had been in. (You can find that post HERE.)

While speaking with Theroux, FKA Twigs went into more detail about the alleged emotional abuse and coercive control she was subjected to. (In December, LaBeouf released a statement to the New York Times saying he had “a history of hurting the people closest to me. I have no excuses for my alcoholism or aggression, only rationalizations. I’m ashamed of that history and am sorry to those I hurt. There is nothing else I can really say.”)

In the lengthy interview — which you can find in full HERE — FKA Twigs says that the relationship started out with an “intense honeymoon period at the beginning”, pointing out that it was “a signifier of how brilliant things can be. It sets the benchmark for if you behave well. And if you fulfil all of the requirements and meet the rules, and all these things of the abuser, it can… be great.” FKA Twigs claims that soon, LaBeouf began to exhibit controlling behaviour, including banning her from looking other men in the eye.

Being nice to a waiter, or being polite to somebody, that could be seen as me flirting or wanting to engage in some sort of relationship with somebody else, when I’m literally just ordering pasta… I was told that I knew what he was like and if I loved him, I wouldn’t look men in the eye. That was my reality for a good four months.

FKA Twigs, 32, also claims that LaBeouf would exert control by giving her a “quota” of how many times she kissed him in a day.

I had a quota I had to meet, that would change. It was like touches or looks or kisses… His previous partner apparently met this number very well, so I was inadequate compared to a previous partner of his. And I had to get the touches and the kisses correct. But I never… knew what the number exactly was. [If I didn’t meet the quota] he would start an argument with me, berate me for hours, make me feel like the worst person ever.

During their chat, FKA Twigs talks passionately about removing the stigma around domestic abuse, particularly the tendency of society to blame the victim for not leaving. “People often ask the victim or survivor, ‘Why didn’t you leave?’ instead of asking the abuser, ‘Why are you holding someone hostage through abusive behaviour?'” she points out, telling Theroux that in her own relationship with LaBeouf, 34, she felt that leaving was something that “genuinely felt impossible,” recalling: “I felt so controlled and I felt so confused and I felt so low, beneath myself, that the fear of leaving and knowing I had all this work to do to get back to just feeling OK, it was completely overwhelming.”

FKA Twigs says she’s still working through the PTSD she’s suffered after the alleged abuse, claiming that LaBeouf would wake her in the middle of the night to accuse her of “all sorts of things” and say that she was thinking of ways to leave him. As a result, FKA Twigs says she’s suffered “intense panic attacks” when waking in the night since.

As she did back in December, FKA Twigs tells Theroux that her main driver for sharing her story is to bring awareness to a serious issue that is all too often swept under the rug, and to let other people in similar situations know that they’re not alone.

She adds that she’s also doing it for her future self, saying “when I’m older, if I have a daughter, I want to be able to say, ‘This thing happened to me. And I dealt with it.’”

“It’s a big thing to heal publicly and have to do it in front of everyone, but I can do it. I’m a big girl and I can do it.”

Help is available.

If you require immediate assistance, please call 000.

If you’d like to speak to someone about domestic violence, please call the 1800 Respect hotline on 1800 737 732 or chat online. 

Under 25? You can reach Kids Helpline at 1800 55 1800 or chat online.