Melissa Benoist revealed that she is a survivor of domestic violence in a series of candid, vulnerable Instagram posts Wednesday.
In a lengthy video on IGTV titled “Life Isn’t Always What It Seems,” the Supergirl actress spoke out for the first time about her experience with domestic abuse, which she said occurred over several months with a man she was in a relationship with.
Benoist didn’t name the alleged perpetrator, saying only that he was younger than her. According to the star, the abuse started out as emotional manipulation in the form of jealousy over who she was talking to or working with. The man would snoop through her phone and ask her to change her clothes before they went out to avoid people looking at her.
About five months into the relationship, Benoist says, things escalated to physical violence. In the video, she describes several occasions on which she was “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 my skin broke, slammed against the wall so hard the drywall broke, choked.” Benoist says she eventually fought back. “I changed and I’m not proud of how I changed,” she said.
“What I went through caused a tectonic shift in my outlook on life,” she explained. “It taught me what love is and isn’t. The strength I’m capable of. The violence that I endured and, yes, even tolerated. The lies I told, the protection I gave my abuser.”
She concluded: “These facets all paint the dark and sinister portrait of that time of my life, but recusing those habits and breaking that cycle was the most rewarding and empowering choice I’ve ever made for myself. I will be healing from this for the rest of my life, and that’s okay.”
In a statement on her Instagram, she thanked anyone who watched the video and said that she was encouraged to share her story because she wanted to raise awareness. “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 ended her note with a plea for other survivors to get help. “If you are in crisis and need assistance to find a safe way out, call the domestic violence hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE,” she wrote. Benoist also shared a link to futureswithoutviolence.org, a non-profit organization which helps raise awareness about domestic violence and how to stop the cycle of abuse.
Watch Benoist’s full video here.