FKA Twigs elaborated on what she claims was an emotionally draining abusive relationship with ex-Shia LaBeouf in an interview with the podcast Grounded with Louis Theroux, uploaded on Monday (Jan. 25).
The singer filed a lawsuit against the actor in Los Angeles in December, alleging “relentless abuse” that included sexual battery, assault and emotional distress.
“It is something in society that’s a really big problem and it’s really common, but for some reason we don’t talk about it,” Twigs (born Tahliah Barnett) told Theroux about why she decided to speak out about the matter.
After meeting on the set of LaBeouf’s 2019 semi-autobiographical film Honey Boy, Twigs said there was an “intense honeymoon period” at the beginning of their relationship, “which is a signifier of how brilliant things can be. It sets the benchmark for if you behave well.”
Then, she added, “If you fulfill all of the requirements and meet the rules, and all these things of the abuser, it can… be great.” She said after the initial bright period, LaBeouf — who she dubbed “the worst person ever” — began to exert control over her every movement through “grooming” and “the pushing of your emotional and spiritual boundaries.”
As examples, she said that the actor would become jealous if she spoke to anyone else. “Being nice to a waiter, or being polite to somebody, that could be seen as me flirting or wanting to engage in some sort of relationship with somebody else, when I’m literally just ordering pasta… I was told that I knew what he was like and if I loved him, I wouldn’t look men in the eye. That was my reality for a good four months,” she told Theroux.
The alleged controlling behavior included counting how many times a day she kissed him, which was determined by a constantly shifting “quota” that would change as soon as she met it. “It was like touches or looks or kisses… His previous partner apparently met this number very well, so I was inadequate compared to a previous partner of his,” she said.
In addition to the count and needing to get the kisses and touches just right, Twigs said she never knew “what the right number was.” If she didn’t hit the quota, “he would start an argument with me, berate me for hours, make me feel like the worst person ever.” LaBeouf had her so convinced she was a “terrible girlfriend” that the singer said she would phone ex-partners to ask them if she was a good lover.
In addition, she claimed that LaBeouf would wake her up in the middle of the night to accuse her of things, including “staring at the ceiling and thinking about ways to leave him… Accused me of not wanting to be with him. Accused me of wanting to be with somebody else. It would be always… between like four and seven in the morning.”
As to why she decided to speak out about the alleged abuse, the singer said she hopes to help others and leave a legacy for her future self and potential children.
“All I can do is just think about myself when I’m 50 years old [and] I’ve got kids, I think about what I want to have stood for,” she said. “This is something that was completely unexpected. I never thought something like this would happen to me… When I’m older, if I have a daughter, I want to be able to say, ‘This thing happened to me. And I dealt with it.’ It’s a big thing to heal publicly and have to do it in front of everyone, but I can do it. I’m a big girl and I can do it.”
Twigs is well aware that some people wonder why she didn’t just leave the allegedly abusive relationship, though she thinks that the more important question should be aimed at the abuser, asking, “‘Why are you holding someone hostage through abusive behavior?’”
The former puts a lot of onus on the abused, she said, noting that she felt that leaving was “genuinely impossible. I felt so controlled and I felt so confused and I felt so low, beneath myself, that the fear of leaving and knowing I had all this work to do to get back to just feeling OK, it felt completely overwhelming.”
After an incident in which the couple were driving back from the desert and, she said, LaBeouf was “threatening to crash the car unless I said I loved him,” before he allegedly ended up “basically strangling me at a gas station,” she decided to call a helpline for abused women to get help. When she heard how seriously the woman on the helpline took her, Twigs said she got a “massive wakeup call,” at which point she started sharing her story with friends and speaking to a therapist.
The lasting effects have stayed with her during the COVID-19 lockdown, during which she said she’s been trying not to wake up in the middle of the night with panic attacks. “I am there now, just, but for a long time anything that woke me up in the night, even if it was just my dog or a noise outside or needing to go to the bathroom, it would trigger an intense panic attack, because I was left with PTSD,” she said.
Following Twigs’ revelation, Sia shared a similar story, claiming that the actor is a “pathological liar” who “conned” her into taking part in an “adulterous relationship.”
Spokespeople for FKA Twigs and LaBeouf did not return requests for comment at press time.