Melissa Benoist, who is best known for her starring role in The CW's Supergirl, revealed that she is a survivor of domestic violence. In an Instagram video that details at length her relationship with a partner who she says abused her, Benoist identified herself as a survivor of IPV, or intimate partner violence.
Benoist does not name her abuser, but describes the evolution of their relationship and walks viewers through how the aggression escalated, from monitoring who she spoke to and what she wore to trying to stop her from engaging in flirtations or romantic scenes at work. "None of that registered as abuse," Benoist says, "because I was worried about how he felt at that point...In retrospect, I see how each red flag followed a clear path to becoming violent because violence is so often proceeded by mental, verbal, emotional, and psychological abuse — which are all sneaky things."
In the video, Benoist details multiple physical attacks that escalate in nature. She says that her most vivid memory is how their arguments would end: with an apology and a need to survey the damage to her body in a bathtub. Her Instagram is embedded below, with a warning that it contains graphic descriptions of violence and domestic abuse.
Then, Benoist says she also became violent in order to fight back. "Rage is contagious," she says, continuing: "I became unreliable, unprofessional, unreachable." Benoist details not getting out of bed for long stretches of time and holding friendships at bay and lying to keep people away and hide the abuse. "I knew how he was treating me was wrong, but I thought the consequences he would suffer if I exposed his behaviour outweighed suffering through it."
As the behaviour escalated further, Benoist reveals her abuser threw his iPhone at her face, tearing her iris and breaking her nose. She remembers it as the moment when things went "too far." Benoist describes her struggle to leave after "ostracizing" herself from her friends, and recounts being asked by a girlfriend if she was a victim of domestic violence.
For Benoist, the relationship ended after a series of what she describes as "careful steps" to get out, and a sense of "mourning." She says in the video that she is revealing this experience now because IPV is "one of the most chronically underreported crimes in the country," according to statistics from the U.S. Department of Justice, with one in four women experiencing severe physical violence by intimate violence.
If you have experienced sexual violence and are in need of crisis support, please visit Shelter Space.