Supergirl's Melissa Benoist Opens Up About Her Experience With Domestic Violence
In a 14-minute long Instagram video, Supergirl actor Melissa Benoist revealed that she endured months of domestic abuse with a past partner. According to The Hollywood Reporter, it happened while she had just ended a long-term relationship and wasn't prepared to start another serious one. She described incidents of emotional manipulation that developed into invading her privacy and controlling everything from her relationships with other men and the clothes she wore.
She explained that he was hindering her burgeoning career and even relationships with her family and friends. Benoist never named her abuser, only saying that he was younger than her. She was previously linked to Nick Vorderman and was then married to actor Blake Jenner for over a year. She is now married to actor Chris Wood.
"Work, in general, was a touchy subject," she said. "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."
Like many survivors, she said that she felt ashamed and didn't tell anyone about the incidents, partly because she didn't want to perpetuate more abuse and partly because she didn't want to admit to herself that she was being abused.
"I learned what it felt like to be 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," she said. "When she locked herself in rooms, she said, the door was broken down, and she learned not to value property or 'myself.'"
"Deep down I never believed he would change, I just fooled myself into thinking I could help him [...] Someone had to let him know his behavior wasn't OK, and who better than the one he was taking it out on?" she said. She also noted that she became violent herself to fight back, something she regrets. "I changed and I'm not proud of how I changed. The more people I let in, the more I was bolstered. None of this is salacious news, it was my reality. What I went through caused a tectonic shift in my outlook on life."
She urged anyone facing similar things to seek help. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, one in four women has experienced some form of violence from their partners. One in seven women has been injured by their partners.
"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."
If you are experiencing domestic violence, please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or TTY 1-800-787-3224 for confidential support.