“So, I don’t normally do things like this, but I’ve written something that I want to share, and I wanted it to stay my words and not to have to edit it down for publishing,” Benoist, 31, began her Instagram video on Wednesday. “I’m gonna read it out loud, and I’m quite nervous so bear with me.”
The Glee alum then got real with her followers about her journey through domestic violence, but she didn’t name her abuser.
“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 said.
She then described her abuser saying, “He was a magnanimous person, who didn’t really give you a choice not to be drawn to him. He could be charming, funny, manipulative, devious. He was younger than me, his maturity obvious. For a period of time, I wasn’t interested. I was newly single, gaining my bearing in a change in my life.”
The Colorado native opened up that he made her feel “special” when they met, but once they began dating things got intense and changed. “It’s still hard for me to dissect what I was thinking and feeling that kept me from stopping what felt like a runaway freight train,” she said about her relationship. “It didn’t matter that I had misgivings, whether or not he was the one, at the time, it felt very good how much he coveted me. 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.”
The violence didn’t begin right away, but the actress noted that she did catch her partner “snooping” on her devices and becoming controlling in all aspects of her life. She also revealed that the controlling actions resulted in her turning down jobs from time to time, in order to not “hurt him” because he was jealous of her so-called “flirtatious” scenes or jobs.
When things did become physical, The Flash actress admitted she had no idea how to react. “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 said.
Benoist revealed that the violence changed her forever saying, “I have changed and I’m not proud of how I changed. I became a person I could have never imagined lurked inside of me. I was livid at what was happening, the 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.”
The Waco star said she “put on a happy face” to the public, but her final straw came when her significant other gave her a “blow to my face” with his phone. It caused her to “nearly rupture” her eyeball and left her with a broken nose, which was when “something inside broke, this was too far.”
Although leaving her violent situation was “not a walk in the park,” Benoist did it and let in the people she loved to help her feel confident about her decision. “Breaking the cycle was the most rewarding, empowering choice I’ve ever made for myself,” she concluded. “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.”
After sharing her story in the emotional video, Benoist reached out to her followers again in an Instagram post, this time pointing out the statistics involved with domestic abuse and reminding everyone they can reach out for help.
“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 on Wednesday. “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. @futureswithoutviolence.”