Supergirl Star Melissa Benoist Speaks Out About Surviving Intimate Partner Violence

Photo: Dean Buscher/The CW.
Update, November 30, 2019: Melissa Benoist's husband, actor Chris Wood, stands with his wife after she revealed in an Instagram video she is a survivor of domestic violence.
The actor showed his support on Twitter, writing, "Happy Thanksgiving! I'm going to kiss my wife and hold her tenderly. All day. And every day. How do YOU show love? #IStandWithMelissa." The tweet was his first statement on Benoist's video.
The couple met on the set of The CW's Supergirl, where Wood played Mon-El, and began dating in 2017, according to E! News. The duo announced their engagement in February and were married in September.
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This article was originally published on November 28, 2019.
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."
Benoist, who is 31, does describe her abuser as being younger than her. She has been romantically tied to 37-year-old photographer Nick Vorderman, was married to 27-year-old actor Blake Jenner, for over a year, and is now married to actor Chris Wood, 31, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
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.
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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 behavior outweighed suffering through it."
As the behavior 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 are experiencing domestic violence, please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or TTY 1-800-787-3224 for confidential support.
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