FKA twigs accuses Shia LaBeouf of sexual battery, 'relentless abuse' in disturbing lawsuit

Taryn Ryder
·Writer, Yahoo Entertainment
·7 min read

FKA twigs is accusing Shia LaBeouf of sexual battery, assault and infliction of emotional distress in a troubling lawsuit filed Friday. She also claims LaBeouf knowingly gave her a sexually transmitted disease.

The 32-year-old musician, born Tahliah Debrett Barnett, recounted the “relentless abuse” she allegedly suffered during their relationship in an interview with the New York Times.

“What I went through with Shia was the worst thing I’ve ever been through in the whole of my life,” she said. “I don’t think people would ever think that it would happen to me. But I think that’s the thing. It can happen to anybody.”

Barnett met LaBeouf, 34, in 2018 when she was cast in his mostly autobiographical film Honey Boy. They dated for nearly a year. When the honeymoon phase wore off, she claims she was subjected to physical, emotional and mental abuse on multiple occasions. One incident from Feb. 2019 is detailed in the lawsuit, obtained by the Times.

According to the article, Barnett and LaBeouf were in the desert where he “raged at her throughout the trip,” waking her up once “in the middle of the night, choking her.” On the way back to Los Angeles, he began driving recklessly, “removing his seatbelt and threatening to crash unless she professed her love for him.”

“After she begged to be let out of the car, she said he pulled over at a gas station and she took her bags from the trunk. But Mr. LaBeouf followed, and assaulted her, throwing her against the car while screaming in her face, according to the suit. He then forced her back in the car,” the article states.

After the incident, Barnett was discouraged to leave as it happened in public and she said no one stepped in to help her. An attempt she made to tell a colleague was dismissed.

“I just thought to myself, no one is ever going to believe me,” she told the Times. “I’m unconventional. And I’m a person of color who is a female.”

A second former girlfriend of LaBeouf’s also accused him of abusive behavior in the lawsuit. Karolyn Pho, who dated the actor for two years, claims he once drunkenly pinned her to a bed and head-butted her, causing her to bleed. “So much goes into breaking down a man or woman to make them OK with a certain kind of treatment,” the stylist told the Times.

A representative for LaBeouf did not immediately respond to Yahoo Entertainment’s request for comment. However, the actor issued a statement via email to the Times.

“I’m not in any position to tell anyone how my behavior made them feel,” he wrote. “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.”

Shia LaBeouf sued by FKA twigs for alleged abuse.
Shia LaBeouf sued by FKA twigs for alleged abuse. (Photo: Getty Images)

When asked to comment on specific allegations made by the women, he replied that many “are not true.” He added that he owes them “the opportunity to air their statements publicly and accept accountability for those things I have done.”

LaBeouf noted that he was “a sober member of a 12-step program” and in therapy. “I am not cured of my PTSD and alcoholism,” he wrote, “but I am committed to doing what I need to do to recover, and I will forever be sorry to the people that I may have harmed along the way.”

LaBeouf has been arrested multiple times and has been in the press for unsettling behavior. In October, he was charged with misdemeanor battery and petty theft after allegedly stealing a man’s hat in Los Angeles. In 2017, he was arrested for public drunkenness, disorderly conduct and obstruction. It was his second arrest that year. The Transformers star was caught on tape in 2015 threatening ex-wife, actress Mia Goth, saying he “would’ve killed her” after they got in a heated argument.

Barnett and Pho detail LaBeouf’s controlling behavior in the lawsuit, claiming he didn’t like it if they spoke to or looked at male waiters. Barnett told the Times she learned to keep her eyes down when men spoke to her and that the actor had rules about how many times a day she had to kiss and touch him. Barnett also described tactics LaBeouf used to isolate her from friends and her professional circle.

LaBeouf kept a loaded firearm by the bed, according to the lawsuit, and Barnett claims she was scared to use the bathroom at night in case he’d mistake her for an intruder and shoot her. She also alleges he didn’t let her wear clothing to bed.

With the help of a therapist, Barnett began to plot her escape, which she said seemed “both difficult and dangerous,” according to the lawsuit.

During one attempt in spring 2019, she claimed LaBeouf turned up unannounced and terrorized her, according to a sworn statement from her housekeeper who witnessed the incident. When Barnett wouldn’t leave with him, the statement says, he “violently grabbed” her, picked her up and locked her in another room, where he berated her.

“The whole time I was with him, I could have bought myself a business-flight plane ticket back to my four-story townhouse in [London],” she explained — but she didn’t.

“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.

Barnett hopes that in coming forward, she can shed light on how abuse can happen to anyone, no matter their status or wealth.

“I’d like to be able to raise awareness on the tactics that abusers use to control you and take away your agency,” she explained.

Barnett said she plans to donate a significant portion of any monetary damages to domestic-violence charities.

The singer also took to Twitter, writing about her decision to speak out publicly and sharing several charities and organizations aimed at helping victims of domestic violence, including Sistah Space, the National Domestic Violence Hotline and Freeform.

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