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FKA Twigs says she was ‘left with PTSD’ after dating Shia LaBeouf

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Singer FKA Twigs has said she was left with PTSD after splitting from actor Shia LaBeouf in 2019.

The musician, real name Tahliah Debrett Barnett, is suing LaBeouf for physical, mental and emotional abuse.

Barnett told Louis Theroux’s podcast she felt “scared and intimidated and controlled” by LaBeouf, and she “wasn’t allowed to look men in the eye”.

LaBeouf has previously said many allegations against him are untrue but apologised for the hurt he had caused.

BBC News has asked his representatives if he has anything to add in light of his ex-girlfriend’s latest comments.

Barnett was speaking to Theroux on the latest episode of his BBC Radio 4 podcast Grounded.

media captionFKA twigs talks openly about her experiences of domestic abuse.

Barnett, 33, from Gloucestershire, has had two Brit Award nominations for best British female solo artist. LaBeouf, 34, is known for films like Transformers and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.

They met on the set of the movie Honey Boy in 2018 and dated for nine months, splitting in May 2019 citing conflicting work schedules. However, it emerged in December 2020 that Barnett was suing LeBeouf for sexual battery, assault and infliction of emotional distress.

Barnett told Theroux there was “an intense honeymoon period at the beginning” before LaBeouf’s behaviour became abusive.

FKA Twigs and Shia LaBeouf pictured in Paris in September 2018IMAGE COPYRIGHTGETTY IMAGES
image captionFKA Twigs and Shia LaBeouf pictured in Paris in September 2018

“For me it was being nice to a waiter or being polite to somebody that could be seen as me flirting or want to engage in some sort of relationship with somebody else when I’m literally just ordering pasta and being polite,” she said.

“I was told that I knew what he was like, and if I loved him I wouldn’t look men in the eye. So that was my reality for a good four months towards the end of the relationship, that I wasn’t allowed to look men in the eye.”

Barnett said she began looking at the ground when the couple went out together, and began to isolate herself from her friends and family. “I just was living a very regimented and contained life that I felt got me in the least trouble,” she said.

FKA Twigs
image captionFKA Twigs’ debut album was nominated for the Mercury Prize

Barnett said she was expected to meet a daily quota of affection, with LaBeouf expecting her to kiss him a certain number of times per day or reiterate often how much she cared for him. But, she said, such efforts on her part did not stop him from becoming insecure.

“He would wake me up in the night to accuse me of all sorts of things,” she said. “Accuse me of staring at the ceiling and thinking about ways to leave him… accusing me of wanting to be with somebody else but it would be, always – I’d say between like four and seven in the morning.”

“I was left with PTSD [post-traumatic stress disorder] from that, which again is just something that I don’t think we really talk about as a society just in terms of the healing when leaving, and how much work that has to be done to recover, to get back to the person that you were before.”

LaBeouf ‘sorry and ashamed’

LaBeouf previously told The New York Times that many of Barnett’s allegations are not true but said he owed her and Karolyn Pho, another woman whose claims feature in the lawsuit, “the opportunity to air their statements publicly and [for me to] accept accountability for those things I have done”.

In another statement, he added: “I’m not in any position to tell anyone how my behaviour made them feel. I have no excuses for my alcoholism or aggression, only rationalisations.

“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.”

Shia LaBeoufIMAGE COPYRIGHTREUTERS
image captionLaBeouf previously starred Transformers and appears in a new Netflix film Pieces of a Woman

Barnett told Theroux a “turning point” came when she called an abuse helpline. The singer said the conversation was a “massive wake-up call” and helped her begin the mental process of how to leave.

Barnett has released two albums as FKA Twigs, the first of which, LP1, reached number 16 in the UK chart and was nominated for the Mercury Prize.

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