FKA Twigs sued Shia LaBeouf for sexual battery, assault and emotional distress about six weeks ago, in mid-December. Twigs dated Shia for about a year, and she is still dealing with the trauma from that relationship. I tend to believe her lawsuit was mostly about forcing Shia to face who he is and perhaps force him to get help. So far, all we’ve heard is that he is looking for a place which might help him, like a rehab for abusers, only nothing has really come of it. So the lawsuit goes on, and Twigs continues to tell her story. She spoke with Louis Theroux for his series, Grounded. The BBC had a breakdown of the discussion, and here are some highlights:
The honeymoon period before the abuse began: “[There is] an intense honeymoon period at the beginning, which is a signifier of how brilliant things can be. It sets the benchmark for if you behave well. And if you fulfil all of the requirements and meet the rules, and all these things of the abuser, it can… be great.”
After the honeymoon period, Shia began to exert control over her: “The grooming, the pushing of your emotional and spiritual boundaries.” She says Shia 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.”
Shia counted the number of kisses she gave him: “I had a quota I had to meet, that would change. 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. And I had to get the touches and the kisses correct. But I never… knew what the number exactly 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.” He so convinced her that she was a terrible girlfriend that she would ring ex-partners to ask if she was horrible.
He would wake her up in the middle of the night: “…to accuse me of all sorts of things. He accused me of 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.” She says throughout lockdown she has been, “trying not to wake up between three and seven [am] in a panic attack. 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 reiterates wanting to talk about this because, “I don’t think we really talk about, as a society, the healing of leaving and how much work then has to be done to recover and get back to the person you were before.”
Why she didn’t leave: “That, ‘Why didn’t you leave?’ conversation is something I really want to tackle,” says twigs. “People often ask the victim or survivor, ‘Why didn’t you leave?’ instead of asking the abuser, ‘Why are you holding someone hostage through abusive behaviour?’ It’s a fair question for you to ask me, but it puts a lot on me. It puts a lot on victims and survivors.” She says that leaving, “genuinely felt 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 was completely overwhelming.”
Growing up biracial in the UK: “I remember all the kids having to hold hands, like two-by-two, and [a girl] wouldn’t hold my hand in case the colour came off. I was probably about four and I’d never realised I was a different colour. It was the first time I’d ever, ever realised.”
Dealing with racism when she dated Robert Pattinson. “I think they considered that he should definitely be with someone white and blonde.” She says people on social media would compare her to monkeys, which deeply hurt her confidence for a long time. “But just for everyone to know, I now love how I look and I’m very confident.”
I remember that Pattinson era and his fans – and Kristen Stewart fans – were unspeakably racist to Twigs. I also remember that Rob never said much about it in defense of Twigs and that kind of pissed me off too. I wonder if it pissed her off. As for her detailing of the abuse she suffered from Shia… Jesus. I found her descriptions of how the gaslighting and grooming began really striking – I’m guessing many girls and women will relate to that and begin to question what they put up with, the emotional and psychological abuse they’ve suffered at the hands of intimate partners. Shia is so disgusting, my God.
Photos courtesy of Backgrid, WENN.