This post will cover some descriptions of abuse. In the 1995 film Angus, the title character’s Grandpa, played by George C. Scott, tells him that Superman isn’t brave. As Grandpa says, “He’s smart, handsome, even decent. But he’s not brave…Superman is indestructible, and you can’t be brave if you’re indestructible. It’s people like you and your mother. People who are different, and can be crushed and know it. Yet they keep on going out there every time.” Supergirl star Melissa Benoist reminded me of that as I watched the video she posted to her Instagram account this week. In the harrowing 14-minute video, Benoist recounts the intimate partner violence she endured during a previous relationship.
What She Says in the Video: The Beginning
Although you can and should watch the video yourself, we’ll give you a brief summary first. Benoist begins by tracing the development of this past relationship and how it bloomed in the aftermath of another relationship. At first, as she says, there were no glaring red flags. However, in hindsight, you can see signs of trouble. As Benoist describes, her former partner began with emotional manipulation, which often can turn into emotional abuse. Her ex was jealous, for example, to the point that he would monitor her communications and would become upset if she had romantic scenes with other men. This had a deleterious effect on her career, causing her to turn down roles and projects that she knew would upset him.
If the relationship had stayed at this level, then it still would have been unhealthy. This kind of control is common in a relationship marked by distrust, and you cannot have a healthy relationship without trust. Staying in this kind of relationship would have slowly worn away her self-esteem. Put simply, it would have been bad all on its own. But then it got worse.
An Unhealthy Relationship Turns Toxic
As Benoist details, the violence started abruptly, but she didn’t see it for what it was at the time. It began when her ex lobbed a smoothie at her face. Although she was shocked, in the moment she was more concerned with the stain it would cause. What followed is the familiar yet sad escalation and retreat of a violent relationship. He would terrorize her and then feel remorse, over and over again. Ultimately, in an echo of his first act of violence, he threw his phone at her face. Along with breaking her nose, it left her with permanent pupil dilation. Although she was quietly questioned at the hospital, she repeated the cover-up story her partner had helped her concoct. She even retold it on a late night talk show. And we all laughed, while she was suffering.
Then one day, a friend spoke up. Her friends had noticed something was wrong and they took the first step, speaking up. Benoist, finally able to confide in someone, found the support to leave her partner.
The Real Supergirl is Melissa Benoist
Although Benoist doesn’t say what prompted this sudden reveal, she’s clear about why she’s sharing this story now. The high rates of intimate partner violence are troubling, obviously, and Benoist wants you to know that you have a way out. She hopes that by sharing her story, other people will be moved to reach out for help, too.
And it looks like it’s having an effect. In the hours following her video, #IStandWithMelissa trended on Twitter, and a number of costars and other celebrities praised her for coming forward. In addition, Supergirl‘s executive producers, Sarah Schecter and Greg Berlanti, tweeted a message of support.
— Sarah Schechter (@SarahSoWitty) November 28, 2019
And we would like to offer ours. Not only for Melissa, who did a big brave thing, but also for any of you who need support. If you suspect a friend is being abused, then be there for them. Let them know they can confide in you. And if you are being abused, then just like Melissa, you can survive it, too.
To get help, call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233), the National Domestic Violence Hotline. You can also find other resources on the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence’s site. It may seem scary and it is, but you can do it. You deserve better. You deserve love without abuse.
What are your thoughts on Melissa’s statement? Let us know below or on social media. (Note: Although it seems easy to figure out who Melissa is describing, she has not named a specific person. Therefore we ask that you don’t, either.)
featured image via The CW
Salomé Gonstad is a freelance writer who grew up in the swampy wilds of south Alabama. She now splits her time between the Appalachian wilds (of Alabama) and the considerably more refined streets of New York City. When she's not yelling about pop culture on the internet, she's working on a supernatural thriller about her hometown. Also, we're pretty sure she's a werewolf. Email her at email@example.com.