FKA Twigs will always be our #WCW. She’s stunning, a little weird, and a musical genius. But recently the singer went public with a lawsuit, and some heartbreaking news. It’s official: FKA Twigs (otherwise known as Tahliah Debrett Barnett) is suing actor and ex-boyfriend for emotional, mental, and physical domestic abuse during their relationship.
The 32-year-old went public with tragic details in an interview with the New York Times. In it, she called her relationship with Shia as “the worst thing I’ve ever been through in the whole of my life”. The two met when she was cast in his film Honey Boy, and started dating after the filming for the movie finished.
Apparently, this isn’t the first time that Shia Leboeuf has been accused of abuse. Multiple ex-girlfriends, including stylist Karolyn Pho, confirmed that Shia was abusive.
The suit also states a horrifying ordeal that FKA was put in. In February 2019, Barnett was in the passenger seat of a car her ex Leboeuf was recklessly driving. He took off his seatbelt and warned her that he’d crash unless she told him she loved him. She begged him to let her out of the car, and after dropping her off at a gas station, he followed her and slammed her against the car, while screamed inches from her face. During the same trip, they took a desert vacation out of LA, where he woke her up in the middle of the night choking her.
He regulated how many times she should kiss or touch him daily. He wouldn’t let her look or talk to male waiters. He isolated her from her London friend group and slept with a gun at night. He even knowingly gave her an STD, which is a serious crime. But even after all these scary events, she felt like her voice wouldn’t be heard if she spoke out.
She thought, “No one is ever going to believe me. I’m unconventional. And I’m a person of colour who is a female.” Shia is a privileged white male in Hollywood, and it’s clear that this power has allowed him to get away with abusing multiple partners. This dates all the way back to 2015 — when he was dating indie actress Mia Goth, they had an argument that happened to be on film. In it, he can be heard saying “ this is the kind of thing that makes a person abusive” and even tells the people who filmed the fight that he “would’ve killed her” if he didn’t leave.
Leboeuf emailed the NYT after the FKA Twigs interview was released, owning up to being an abusive alcoholic, but doesn’t admit to all of it, saying “Many of these allegations are not true.” Still, he says he needs to “accept accountability for those things I have done” but we haven’t seen him actually take that step.
In another email to the times, he says “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.”
Coming forward has been a brave step towards Barnett’s own healing from trauma, but there’s another purpose behind this lawsuit that she wants us to know. Abusers will find a way to take away your freedom and agency — your control over yourself, essentially. She wants to raise global awareness on “the tactics that abusers use to control you.”
Further, on social media she shared a lengthy Instagram post. In it, she tells her fan that she understands it’s surprising to learn that such an empowered and independent woman could be trapped in an abusive relationship. She clarifies that it was difficult for her to process too: “I never thought something like this would happen to me. Which is whyIhave decided it’s important for me to talk about it …Ihope that by sharing my experienceIcan truly help others feel like they are not alone.”
We commend her courage in both taking back control over her life and reaching out a helping hand to other domestic violence victims who aren’t in a position of fame. In 2019, Barnett released her groundbreaking album “Magdalene.” Now that she’s in control of her life again with the support of the public, we can’t wait to see what creative work comes next.