British singer FKA Twigs recently brought a lawsuit against ex-boyfriend Shia LaBeouf, who she accused of mental and physical abuse during their relationship. Twigs alleged that Shia lashed out with alarming displays of jealousy and controlling behavior, and that he “strangled” her and subjected to sleep deprivation, social isolation, and gaslighting. Twigs also alleged that LaBeouf knowingly infected her with an STD, and she’s suffered “pretty severe PTSD” in the aftermath of the relationship. She’s coming forward now with even more details about the alleged abuse, including how she feels that it’s “pure luck” she survived, as she told Elle magazine.
The full piece in Elle is a chilling one that includes allegations we’ve heard already (that Shia kept a gun near the bed, and she was afraid of going to the bathroom out of fear of being accidentally taken for an intruder) about LaBeouf’s disturbing behavior, but one particularly unsettling section sticks out. Twigs claims that Shia bragged about shooting stray dogs and justified it as some twisted form of method acting preparation:
LaBeouf would shamelessly brag about shooting stray dogs. He said it helped him “get into character” as a gun-toting henchman for his role in 2020’s The Tax Collector. Twigs was disturbed by this confession and questioned him. “I said to him, ‘That’s really bad. Why are you doing that?’ And he was like, ‘Because I take my art seriously. You’re not supporting me in my art. This is what I do. It’s different from singing. I don’t just get up on a stage and do a few moves. I’m in the character.’ He made me feel bad, like I didn’t understand what it was like to be an actor or to do this…Method [acting technique].”
Aside from the disturbing implications (people who commit violence against humans often start with committing violence against animals) of the dog-shooting allegations, that passage contains something that abuse survivors will recognize: the devaluing of the victim. If this is true, Shia not only explained away his own disturbing behavior as a means to achieving high “art” while attempting to make Twigs feel as though her career was a lesser one. Also heartbreaking: how Twigs revealed a massive fight because he socially isolated her and didn’t want her to feel joy outside of his influence:
[I]f twigs did communicate with friends, LaBeouf would often become jealous. “One time, he heard me laughing on FaceTime with my friend. He came in and had a massive argument with me because he said he doesn’t make me laugh like that. So then I had to hide laughing with my friends. It’s [about] isolation, so I don’t talk to my friends. He hated that I had an experience to myself [with] something that didn’t involve him, a memory that gave me joy,” she says, sighing. “He made me feel like I wasn’t allowed joy, basically. That’s what it boils down to: I wasn’t allowed joy unless it directly revolved around him.”
Twigs also referred to a common metaphor used to describe abusive relationships: the boiling frog metaphor that explains how how victims find themselves being slowly, and insidiously, controlled by their partners. It’s a harrowing interview to read but a necessary one, and you can find it in full at Elle.