Supergirl star Melissa Benoist took to Instagram last week to reveal that she is a survivor of domestic violence. In a heart-wrenching 14 minute long video on IGTV, the actress detailed her experience with IPV, or intimate partner violence. Benoist stated that she "never in [her] left expected" to be a victim, "let alone be broadcasting into the ether." She then explained more about what happened, describing the man who did it as "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 the guy was younger than her and became a friend of hers when she was newly single. He made her laugh and feel less alone and soon they started dating. At first he controlled her clothing and what she did on her phone, then he made demands about her work, not wanting her to kiss or even flirt with other men in scenes she was acting in. Melissa began to turn down auditions and job offers so she wouldn't upset him.
Five months into the relationship, things turned physical when the abuser threw a smoothie at Melissa's face. Ashamed it happened, she kept quiet, hoping the abuse would stop, but it didn't.
In the video, Melissa confesses:
"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. 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 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. I learned to lock myself in rooms but quickly stopped because the door was inevitably broken down. I learned to not value any of my property — replaceable and irreplaceable. I learned not to value myself."
She also spoke about how the abuse affected her:
"I have changed and I’m not proud of how I changed,” she said. “I became a person I could have never imagined lurked inside of me. I was livid at what was happening and that 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. I developed an astonishing poker face. Inwardly I was the ugliest version of myself I had ever known. I became unreliable, unprofessional, sometimes unreachable. There were stretches of weeks where I wouldn’t get out of bed for more than two hours a day. If you met me at this time, I was most likely friendly, just to the point of getting close and aloof to the point of getting cold. Melissa in public put on a happy face and a healthy life, where as Melissa at home dropped the veneer and lived a nightmare in the middle of one never-ending dispute. Battle wounds and all."
When her abuser hit her in the face with his iPhone, an attack that tore her iris, nearly ruptured her eyeball, lacerated her skin and broke her nose, she knew things weren't going to change. It wasn't easy, but she was able to leave him thanks to the support of those who loved her, and the realization that she didn't deserve it.
Now, she hopes to help others in similar situations. She pointed out how one in four men and one in four women have experienced domestic violence. She said, "I want those statistics to change, and I hope that telling my story will prevent more stories like this from happening. 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."
As for who the abuser was, while Melissa never names him, it's suspected to be her ex-husband and former Glee co-star Blake Jenner. For one, he is younger than her, and also, in 2016, while she was with him, during an appearance on The Tonight Show, she said she had an eye injury caused by falling down the stairs and hitting her head on a potted plant. She also compared herself to 'Squirt' from Finding Nemo, which in her video about the abuse she says is what her abuser told her after he injured her.
Melissa is now happily married to her Supergirl co-star Chris Wood, who clearly supports his wife and tweeted out a trending hashtag to show it:
Other stars like Lili Reinhart are also spreading Melissa's important message:
*If you or someone you know is a victim or survivor of domestic violence, please call 1-800-799-7233*
Photo: Getty Images, YouTube