Pin It
Louis Theroux and FKA twigs
Via Wikimedia Commons and Instagram (@fkatwigs)

FKA twigs opens up to Louis Theroux about domestic abuse experiences

The singer joins the documentarian on his podcast, Grounded with Louis Theroux, where she discusses her allegations against Shia LaBeouf

There’s many, many shit things about lockdown, but, like a phoenix, Louis Theroux has managed to rise from the ashes with his podcast, Grounded with Louis Theroux. Unable to continue with his usual method of interviewing – descending on someone’s home for weeks on end – the documentarian has taken to Zoom to virtually chat to some very high-profile figures. Now, FKA twigs has joined this coveted list of guests.

On today’s episode of the podcast – which previously featured Michaela Coel, Riz Ahmed, and Sia – twigs discusses being trolled online and her love for Adam Ant and Shakespears Sister. The musician also opens up about her relationship with Shia LaBeouf, which she alleges was abusive.

Answering a question about when she realised she needed to get out of the relationship, twigs (real name Tahliah Debrett Barnett) said: “After the incident driving back from the desert where he was threatening to crash the car unless I said I loved him, and ended up basically strangling me in public at a gas station and nobody did anything. That was a really low moment for me because I felt like I’d never be believed.”

She continued: “I remember going back to where I was staying and calling an abused women’s helpline, and her reaction to me was so serious. She was like, ‘OK, from what you’ve said, it feels to me like you’re in an unsafe place. Does your abuser know where you are? Who have you told about this?’ It felt really like… somebody is taking this so seriously and wants to get me somewhere safe, and that was a really massive wake-up call. That was the time when I realised, ‘I need a lot of help to get out of this’.”

twigs said she started seeing a therapist twice a week and, a few months later, was able to leave her relationship for good. “I had to spend a lot of time before I could leave, just trying to gather enough of myself together so that I knew when I left, I really wouldn’t go back,” she concluded.

Last month, twigs spoke out about the abuse for the first time when she filed a lawsuit against LaBeouf, citing assault, sexual battery, and the intentional infliction of emotional distress. The pair met on the set of Honey Boy in 2018, and began a relationship after filming ended. From October 2018, the lawsuit alleges, LaBeouf began exhibiting fits of jealousy and rage at twigs, who claims that “mental and verbal harassment… eventually turned into physical violence”. 

Responding to the allegations, LaBeouf said: “I’m not in any position to tell anyone how my behavior 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.” However, he added: “Many of these allegations are not true.”

In previous posts about her experiences, twigs has highlighted Hackney-based organisation Sistah Space, which is currently calling for donations to help it acquire a safe venue for women to access 24 hours a day. You can donate here.

Watch a clip from Grounded with Louis Theroux above, and listen to the full interview with FKA twigs here. Read Dazed’s interview with the documentarian here.