FKA twigs Sues Shia LaBeouf over "Relentless" Abusive Relationship

The actor has been accused of sexual battery, assault and infliction of emotional distress

BY Calum SlingerlandPublished Dec 11, 2020

FKA twigs has sued former boyfriend Shia LaBeouf, alleging that the actor was sexually, physically, mentally and emotionally abusive to her.

The New York Times reports that the lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, accuses LaBeouf of "relentless abuse" during his relationship with the artist born Tahliah Debrett Barnett. Their romantic relationship lasted just under a year.

The actor is accused of sexual battery, assault and infliction of emotional distress, in addition to knowingly giving Barnett a sexually transmitted disease.

The Times' report centres on an incident "at the heart of the lawsuit" that took place just after Valentine's Day 2019, detailing LaBeouf's reckless driving as the two made a return trip to Los Angeles. With Barnett in the vehicle, LaBeouf is accused of "removing his seatbelt and threatening to crash unless she professed her love for him."

The paper writes that "after [Barnett] begged to be let out of the car, she said [LaBeouf] pulled over at a gas station and she took her bags from the trunk. But Mr. LaBeouf followed, and assaulted her, throwing her against the car while screaming in her face, according to the suit. He then forced her back in the car."

In the lawsuit, Barnett describes how she met LaBeouf in 2018 when she was cast in his film Honey Boy, and how the pair began dating not long after wrapping the film. She notes how the relationship's early stages were marked by LaBeouf's "over-the-top displays of affection," which helped earn her trust.

Barnett explained how LaBeouf convinced her to stay with him in Los Angeles, as opposed to moving back to London where she and her professional circle lived. The suit alleges that LaBeouf "kept a loaded firearm by the bed and that [Barnett] was scared to use the bathroom at night lest he mistake her for an intruder and shoot her."

The lawsuit alleges LaBeouf did not let Barnett wear clothing to bed, and that he would "spin a trifling disagreement...into an all-night fight, depriving her of sleep." Additionally, Barnett detailed in the suit that LaBeouf had rules about how many times a day she had to kiss and touch him, "which he enforced with constant haranguing and criticism."

The relationship also allegedly impacted the release of Barnett's 2019 album Magdelene, leading to a rescheduled tour and release dates. "Twigs is always the driving force behind her career — always a step ahead of everyone else," longtime manager Michael Stirton told the Times. "This was an extreme change in her personality and character."

Another former girlfriend of LaBeouf's, stylist Karolyn Pho, described similar behaviours to the Times. Per the suit, LaBeouf once "drunkenly pinned her to a bed and head-butted her, enough that she bled." 

LaBeouf responded to the allegations in an email to NYT  Thursday (December 10), writing, "I'm not in any position to tell anyone how my behaviour made them feel."

He added: "I have no excuses for my alcoholism or aggression, only rationalizations. I have been abusive to myself and everyone around me for years. I have a history of hurting the people closest to me. I'm ashamed of that history and am sorry to those I hurt. There is nothing else I can really say."

In a separate email to the Times, LaBeouf wrote that "many of these allegations are not true," but that he owed the women "the opportunity to air their statements publicly and accept accountability for those things I have done."

He added that he was "a sobre member of a 12-step program" and in therapy. "I am not cured of my PTSD and alcoholism," he wrote, "but I am committed to doing what I need to do to recover, and I will forever be sorry to the people that I may have harmed along the way."

You can read the entire report from the New York Times here. Barnett writes in the lawsuit that she plans to donate a significant portion of any monetary damages to domestic-violence charities.

"What I went through with Shia was the worst thing I've ever been through in the whole of my life," she said. "I don't think people would ever think that it would happen to me. But I think that's the thing. It can happen to anybody."

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