TV star suffered brutal abuse from a former partner
Supergirl actress Melissa Benoist has shared a heartbreaking account of the violent physical abuse she claims she endured at the hands of a former partner, prompting the hashtag #IStandWithMelissa to circulate on Twitter.
The 31-year-old star of the US series and passionate domestic violence campaigner shared the powerful post on Instagram on Wednesday, captioned "life isn't always what it seems".
Prefacing the 14-and-a-half minute recording by telling followers she was "nervous" about telling her story, she recalled the months of physical abuse including being slapped, punched, dragged by her hair, headbutted, pinched, shoved and choked on multiple occasions by her former partner, who she did not name.
She also recalled an incident where her alleged attacker threw his phone so hard at her face, she was rushed to hospital with a broken nose and severe damage to her eye.
"I am survivor of domestic violence … which is something I never expected I'd be saying," Benoist told her 3.8 million followers, revealing that the violence began five months into the relationship when her partner threw a smoothie at her face.
"The abuse was not violent at first," she said.
"There was a lot of jealousy, he was snooping on devices, he was angry when I spoke to another man, I had to change clothes often before we went out because he didn't want people looking at me," she explained, adding that the "red flags" didn't feel like abuse at the time.
"It felt like it happened on a different planet," she said of his eventual violent outbursts.
"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, headbutted, pinched until my skin broke, shoved into a wall so hard the dry wall broke, choked.
"I learned quickly not to lock myself in rooms because the door would be inevitably broken down. I learned not to value my property, I learned not to value myself," she said.
Benoist, who was previously married to Glee actor Blake Jenner, went on to explain that after many months of withdrawing herself from social situations, one particularly violent attack forced her to consider leaving her former partner with the help of a friend who suspected things were not as they seem.
News.com.au is not suggesting Benoist is referring to Jenner as her alleged abuser.
She said the alleged incident involved her ex-partner throwing his phone at her face so hard she required urgent medical attention, but she told police and medical staff she had "hit her head on a pot plant" - a story she claims they devised together.
"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," she said, adding that her vision would "never be the same".
Since her post, hundreds of fans have thrown their support behind the actress in solidarity via the hashtag #IStandWithMelissa, expressing how much they admire her courage for speaking out.
It takes immense courage to stand up and talk about what Melissa did today. A reminder that we are all stronger together, and sometimes you need a friend to help you overcome.— Krysta “airstripyaks” Parisi (@Airstripyaks) November 28, 2019
Be that friend. #IStandWithMelissa pic.twitter.com/aXLr4JceyW
there are no words to describe the courage and strength that live within melissa benoist. thank you for using your voice to make a difference. thank you for sharing your story in hopes that it helps others. you are a hero on and off screen. we love you. #istandwithmelissa pic.twitter.com/EvHTfga5hr— stella stands with melissa (@chyIerslgbt) November 27, 2019
Suffice to say, #istandwithmelissa and every other survivor of abuse that’s brave enough to come forward. Every act of vulnerability like hers is heroic in its own right.— Jazzfordshire (@jazzfordshire) November 28, 2019
Admitting leaving her partner was "no walk in the park" the star is dedicated to helping lower the alarming intimate partner violence rates in the US, often sharing messages of support from the I Am Not OK movement and Futures Without Violence Instagram page.
"I want those statistics to change and I hope that telling my story might help more stories like mine from happening," Benoist, who married actor Chris Wood in September, said in her video message.
"I am here, I am with you and you can and deserve to live a violence-free life.
"I will be healing from this for the rest of my life … but it is possible."
In Australia, according to White Ribbon, one woman a week on average is murdered by her current or former partner, and 1 in 4 women have experienced emotional abuse by a current or former partner since the age of 15.