Tahliah Debrett Barnett, more common known as FKA twigs, dated the actor for a little less than one year
Musician FKA twigs filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court accusing actor Shia LaBeouf of sexual battery, assault, and infliction of emotional distress.
According to The New York Times, FKA twigs, born Tahliah Debrett Barnett, alleges several instances of abuse over the course of their nearly year-long relationship, causing her to fear for her life. On one occasion, Barnett said LaBeouf sped down the highway threatening to crash the car and when he finally let her out, assaulted her, threw her against the car, then forced her back inside. In another, she said he woke her up in the middle of the night, choking her.
Barnett and another former girlfriend have claimed repeated physical, emotional, and mental abuse. Barnett said her goal in coming forward, she told The Times, was to explain how anyone, regardless of their money or resources, can become caught in a cycle of abuse. “I’d like to be able to raise awareness on the tactics that abusers use to control you and take away your agency,” she said.
LaBeouf responded via email, saying in part, “I’m not in any position to tell anyone how my behavior made them feel. I have no excuses for my alcoholism or aggression, only rationalizations. I have been abusive to myself and everyone around me for years. I have a history of hurting the people closest to me. I’m ashamed of that history and am sorry to those I hurt. There is nothing else I can really say.”
The lawsuit also alleges LaBeouf knowingly gave Barnett a sexually transmitted disease and that he had rules for her about how many times a day she had to kiss and touch him. Karolyn Pho, another of LaBeouf’s former girlfriends, told similar stories, including that the actor once pinned her to a bed while he was drunk and head-butted her so hard she bled.
“So much goes into breaking down a man or woman to make them OK with a certain kind of treatment,” Pho said.
LaBeouf added that he was “a sober member of a 12-step program” and in therapy. “I am not cured of my PTSD and alcoholism,” he wrote, “but I am committed to doing what I need to do to recover, and I will forever be sorry to the people that I may have harmed along the way.”
For Barnett, the timing of her relationship with LaBeouf landed when she was finishing her critically acclaimed album, Magdalene. The album’s release was delayed multiple times and a tour was rescheduled because she was in a place emotionally and physically, she said, that she couldn’t work.
“What I went through with Shia was the worst thing I’ve ever been through in the whole of my life,” Barnett said. “I don’t think people would ever think that it would happen to me. But I think that’s the thing. It can happen to anybody.”