Anna Kendrick opens up about feeling shame for not leaving emotionally abusive relationship

Amy Sussman

Anna Kendrick is sharing details about the emotional abuse she endured in a previous long-term relationship.

The “Pitch Perfect” actor and singer is opening up about the topic — from the first hint that something was wrong in the relationship, to the eventual realization that it wasn’t her fault, and the role that shame has played — in a candid chat with Dax Shepard for his “Armchair Expert” podcast.

"This was somebody I lived with," Kendrick said of her unnamed former partner. "For all intents and purposes (he was) my husband. We had embryos together. This was my person."

And for six years, she and her person had what she thought was a healthy relationship. Until, suddenly, she realized it was anything but that.

"I remember telling my brother when things had first gone down, ‘I’m living with a stranger. I don’t know what’s happening,'" she said.

Kendrick reflected on a change so stark, that she briefly wondered if perhaps her boyfriend — or even she herself — had fallen ill.

"That actually gave me a moment of relief," she continued. "'Maybe he has a brain tumor, or maybe I have a brain tumor.' Then we can do something about it. There’s an answer."

But she realized it wasn't anything like that. Kendrick recalled him visiting her on set one day, and she noticed he was acting "very strange" and "distant." She quizzed him about what was going on, and eventually he mentioned another woman but refused to discuss it further, even when she met that revelation with an open mind and heart.

"The next year of my life became, 'No, I didn’t;' 'It was nothing;' 'I shouldn’t have said anything,'" she recalled of any attempts to broach the topic again, noting that even though she wanted to "work on" their relationship, he became "increasingly hostile" to her.

She said that each time she attempted to bring up the incident, it resulted in, "I’m curled in a ball, you’re screaming at me, and I don’t know how we got here."

There was one thing, however, she felt certain of at the time: It must have been her fault.

"It was so alarming, and it was so much easier for me to assume I was crazy or I was doing something wrong," Kendrick said of the situation.

She said her partner didn't offer to address his behavior, and she no longer felt safe asking about it.

"I can’t bring up the fact that I’m scared of you, because when I do, you get really scary," Kendrick recalled thinking of her partner.

"It was hard for me to recognize this as an abusive relationship because it didn’t follow (the normal) trajectory," she said. "This is unusual that this is six years of very happy, loving relationship and then an overnight shift."

Getting out of the relationship didn't happen overnight. Kendrick said it was more than a year before they put it behind them, and she blamed herself for that, too.

"I have so much shame about not leaving," she explained. "It wasn't just the, ‘Oh, I’m losing the relationship.’ It was that I believed that if we broke up, or if he left, basically, it was a confirmation that it’s because I’m impossible. ... There was an inherent thing of me being so rejectable that this person who loved me very deeply for six years, it suddenly occurred to him how awful I was or something."

Kendrick admitted she "wasn't planning on" publicly revealing the emotional abuse she endured during a previous interview with an outlet, but that it was a result of not being able to "swallow the shame anymore."

Shepard said that opening up about her experience isn't just important for her own healing, but for her fans and others who might be going through a similar situation.

"For you, 'Oh my god, if I'm a person that was in this relationship, I'm not a feminist, I'm not strong, I'm not worthy of any love, I'm a failure, a disappointment' — to walk through that is not just far more brave, like as an act of bravery, also just f-----g helpful."

While Kendrick recognized that her story might inspire her fanbase, she also wants them to know that the credit lies within themselves.

"Many times, I've seen online people saying, 'you saved my life,' but I always want to say to them, 'I didn't save your life.' Just for one moment or two, something filled up your cup enough that day for you to do the unbelievably backbreaking work of saving your own life," Kendrick explained, concluding that that's exactly how she feels about "Armchair Expert."

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