Supergirl actress Melissa Benoist has opened up about her experience as a domestic violence victim in a hard-hitting new online video.
Benoist, who films The CW superhero TV series in Vancouver, has revealed she suffered months of abuse at the hands of a former partner before she called it quits on the toxic romance.
The 31-year-old, who is now happily married to Supergirl co-star Chris Wood, admits she never thought she’d be able to summon up the courage to tell her story as she kicks off the emotional 14-minute video, in which she reads a statement she prepared.
“I am a survivor of domestic violence or IPV (intimate partner violence), which is something I never in my life expected I would say, let alone be broadcasting into the ether,” Melissa says.
Refusing to name her abuser, she calls him “a magnanimous person, who didn’t really give you a choice not to be drawn to him”, adding, “He could be charming, funny, manipulative, devious.”
“He was younger than me, his maturity obvious,” she adds. “For a period of time, I wasn’t interested. I was newly single, gaining my bearing in a change in my life.”
But she began to fall for the guy, insisting his abuse wasn’t violent at first, but emotional: “Work in general was a touchy subject,” she recalls. “He didn’t want me ever kissing or even having flirtatious scenes with men, which was very hard for me to avoid, so I began turning down auditions, job offers, test deals and friendships, because I didn’t want to hurt him.”
But things started to get nasty during one fight, when he threw a smoothie in her face.
“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 the pavement, head butted, pinched until my skin broke, shoved into a wall so hard the drywall broke, choked,” she says into the camera. “I learned to lock myself in rooms but quickly stopped because the door was inevitably broken down. I learned to not value any of my property … I learned not to value myself.”
The final straw came when her boyfriend threw an iPhone at her face and caused a permanent vision issue.
“The impact tore my iris, nearly ruptured my eyeball, lacerated my skin and broke my nose,” she adds. “My left eye swelled shut. I had a fat lip…”
She made the decision then and there to walk away from the relationship, but admits it wasn’t an easy thing to do: “I felt complicated feelings of guilt for leaving and for hurting someone I had protected for so long, and yes, a mournful feeling of leaving something familiar, but luckily, the people I let in, the more I was bolstered, I never lost the sense of clarity that kept telling me, ‘You do not deserve this’.”