British singer FKA twigs has filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles accusing former boyfriend, actor Shia LaBeouf, of “relentless abuse” during their relationship.
The Gloucester-born musician, born Tahliah Debrett Barnet, is suing the Transformers star for sexual battery, assault, and infliction of emotional distress.
At the heart of the lawsuit, filed this week at Los Angeles Superior Court, is an incident at a petrol station in February of last year.
The couple was driving through the desert during the middle of an argument, when Mr LaBeouf is said to have begun driving recklessly, before removing his seatbelt and threatening to crash unless Ms Barnet professed her love for him.
Ms Barnet, who has been nominated for a Mercury Prize for her music, said she then begged for the 34-year-old actor to pull over and let out of the car. Mr LaBeouf then allegedly assaulted her, throwing her against the car while screaming in her face, according to the suit. He then forced her back in the car.
She details how Mr LaBeouf tried to control her through their nearly year-long relationship, convincing her to move to LA from London where she had been recording an album.
The 32-year-old states in the suit that Mr LaBeouf even had rules about how many times a day she had to kiss and touch him and how he would not like her to look at male waiters. Ms Barnet says she learned to keep her eyes down.
She alleges that he once woke her up in the middle of the night by choking her, and that he often squeezed her so hard he left bruises. She also claims that he “knowingly” gave her a sexually transmitted disease.
Isolated and without many friends, she says she felt she did not have the strength to walk away and feared going to police would harm Mr LaBeouf’s career.
“I just thought to myself, no one is ever going to believe me,” she said in an interview with the New York Times published on Friday. “I’m unconventional. And I’m a person of colour who is a female.
“The whole time I was with him, I could have bought myself a business-flight plane ticket back to my four-storey townhouse in Hackney,” in London, she said. But she did not. “He brought me so low, below myself, that the idea of leaving him and having to work myself back up just seemed impossible,” she said.
She then began speaking to a therapist and decided to leave him.
Ms Barnet told the New York Times that she filed the lawsuit because she would “like to be able to raise awareness on the tactics that abusers use to control you and take away your agency.”
Karolyn Pho, a stylist who is another of Mr LaBeouf’s former girlfriends, described similar experiences, some of which are outlined in the lawsuit.
“Shia LaBeouf hurts women,” states the lawsuit. “He uses them. He abuses them, both physically and mentally. He is dangerous.
“For too long, LaBeouf has sought to excuse his reprehensible actions as the eccentricities of a free-thinking ‘artist,’” it reads. “Even though his history of violent behavior was well-documented, many in the media have treated LaBeouf as a harmless figure of fun, which has helped enable him to perpetuate his cycle of abuse of women over the years.”
Mr LaBeouf, a child actor who made his name in Disney series Even Stevens, has a long history of turbulent behaviour. He has been arrested several times on charges that have been dismissed, including assault and disorderly conduct.
“I’m not in any position to tell anyone how my behavior made them feel,” he said in an email response to the claims. “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.”