Great Britain

Supergirl star Melissa Benoist says she is a domestic abuse survivor: 'You can and deserve to live a violence-free life'

Supergirl star Melissa Benoist has said she is a domestic abuse survivor, claiming the violence she experienced culminated in her suffering a torn iris.

On Wednesday, the actor shared a 14-minute video on Instagram, captioned: “Life isn’t always what it seems.”

Benoist opened the video by saying that while she “doesn’t normally do things like this”, she had written something in her own words that she wanted to share.

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“I am a survivor of domestic violence or IPV, intimate partner violence, which is something that I never in my life expected I would say let alone broadcast into the ether,” the 31-year-old said.

“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.”

Benoist said that her relationship with her alleged abuser, who she does not name, began as a friendship, which then developed into a romance that she was “unsure about” from the beginning.

The actor stated that the abuse was not violent at first, but that in retrospect there were “red flags” which she recognises “followed a very clear path”. 

“Because violence is so often preceded by mental, emotional, verbal and psychological abuse, which are all very sneaky things,” she added.

Benoist stated that her former partner shared with her “the tragedies he had experienced, the injustices and insecurities he had been dealt” in his life, which made her feel as though it was easy to sympathise with him.

The Beautiful: The Carole King Musical star said that the first instance of violence occurred after a pattern emerged of jealous, possessive and controlling behaviour.

Benoist said the man threw a smoothie at her face, which smacked her cheek, resulting in “painful throbbing”, with the drink going all over the floor and sofa.

“I was more worried about the furniture than the fact I had just been abused,” she said.

The actor stated that the abuse she said she endured “had to be a secret”, out of shame, as a means of preventing further violence and as a form of denial.

“The stark truth is, I learned what it felt like to be pinned down, slapped repeatedly, punched so hard that the wind was knocked out of me, dragged by my hair across pavement, headbutted, punched till my skin broke, shoved into a wall so hard the drywall broke, choked,” Benoist stated.

“I learned to lock myself in rooms but quickly stopped because the door was inevitably broken down. I learned not to value any of my property, replaceable and irreplaceable. I learned not to value myself.”

Benoist stated that many of her arguments with her former partner would end by him placing her in a bathtub, which would then be followed by tears and profuse apologies from him.

While the actor said the apologies she received from him made her feel as though they could restore a “semblance of a loving relationship”, she stated that “deep down”, she never believed his behaviour would change.

“I just fooled myself into believing I could help him. I thought I could love him enough to make him see a way of life where violence was not the way you handled emotions. So I consciously deluded myself into thinking that forgiveness would heal him enough to make him stop,” she said.

Benoist claimed that the violence became “significantly worse” when one day her partner threw his iPhone at her face.

“The impact tore my iris, nearly ruptured my eyeball, lacerated my skin and broke my nose. My left eye swelled shut, I had a fat lip, blood was coursing down my face and I can remember immediately screaming at the top of my lungs,” the Supergirl star recalled.

Benoist explained in her Instagram video that the injury is “never going to fully heal”, stating: “Emotionally after that I was done.”

The actor said she was able to find the strength to leave her partner after a friend asked her one day if she was a survivor of domestic violence.

The Whiplash star stated that while she felt “complicated feelings of guilt for leaving”, having protected her alleged abuser, she built an “impenetrable strength” without realising it.

“I choose to love. I don’t choose to minimise my life out of fear. I choose to love myself, to know that love does not include violence and to let victims know that there is a way out in which you will be protected,” she said.

“You can and deserve to live a violence-free life.”

According to charity Refuge, it is estimated that one in four women is likely to experience domestic violence in their lifetime.

In the year ending March 2016, 1.2 million women in England and Wales reported incidents of domestic abuse.

Anyone who requires help or support can contact the National Domestic Violence Helpline which is open 24/7 365 days per year on 0808 2000 247 or via their website www.nationaldomesticviolencehelpline.org.uk