FKA Twigs says ‘it’s a miracle I came out alive’ after Shia LaBeouf abuse claims

Laura Harding, PA Deputy Entertainment Editor
·5-min read

FKA Twigs has said the abuse she allegedly received at the hands of Shia LaBeouf was “the worst thing in the whole of my life”, adding: “Recovering has been the hardest thing I’ve ever tried to do.”

The British singer, whose legal name is Tahliah Barnett, filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles in December alleging that the Hollywood star was a danger to women.

The 33-year-old from Cheltenham said LaBeouf once slammed her into a car, tried to strangle her and knowingly gave her an unspecified sexually transmitted disease.

LaBeouf has denied “each and every allegation” made by his former partner.

On a Valentine’s Day getaway in 2019, Barnett was awoken to LaBeouf choking her and she was paralysed with fear, the lawsuit said.

He later drove wildly and threatened to crash his car if she did not profess eternal love for him, the lawsuit claimed.

When she tried to get out of the car and get away from him at a petrol station, he slammed her against the car, tried to strangle her and forced her to get back in, she alleged.

She told Elle magazine: “I was thinking to myself, ‘I wonder what would happen to my body … if (we) smashed into a wall at 80 miles per hour?’

Honey Boy screening – BFI London Film Festival 2019
Shia LaBeouf (Ian West/PA)

“I was looking for the airbag and I couldn’t see the airbag sign, so I was thinking – ‘If he doesn’t have an airbag, will this car crush my sternum?’”

Asked how she survived the relationship, Barnett told the magazine: “I think it’s luck.

“I honestly wish I could say that I found some strength and I saw this light.

“I wish I could say, ‘(It is) a testament to my strong character,’ or ‘It’s the way my mother raised me’.

“It’s none of that. It’s pure luck that I’m not in that situation anymore.”

She added: “People wouldn’t think that it would happen to a woman like me.

“The biggest misconception is – ‘Well, you’re smart. If it was that bad, why didn’t you leave?’

“It can happen to anyone.”

She said when lockdown began she realised how many women were potentially stuck inside with their abusers, adding: “It made me realize I need to come forward and talk about my experience.

“What I went through with my abuser is, hands down, the worst thing (I’ve experienced) in the whole of my life. Recovering has been the hardest thing I’ve ever tried to do.”

LaBeouf kept guns in the house where they were living and he sometimes slept with them, putting Barnett in a constant state of fear, the lawsuit said.

She told the magazine that she sent a picture of it to her manager, saying: “I thought to myself – ‘If he shoots me, and then if there is some sort of investigation, they will put the pieces together. I need to leave little clues’.”

The lawsuit alleges he would brag about shooting stray dogs as it helped him “get into character” as a gun-toting henchman for his role in the film The Tax Collector and says LaBeouf claimed he killed these dogs because he wanted to know what it felt like to take a life so he could get into the “mindset” of a killer.

She told Elle: “I said to him, ‘That’s really bad. Why are you doing that?’

“And he was like, ‘Because I take my art seriously. You’re not supporting me in my art. This is what I do. It’s different from singing. I don’t just get up on a stage and do a few moves. I’m in the character.’

“He made me feel bad, like I didn’t understand what it was like to be an actor or to do this … method.”

LaBeouf’s lawyer has been contacted for comment,

His legal team has previously filed a response at Los Angeles Superior Court and denied all the allegations in the lawsuit.

They said LaBeouf, 34, did not cause harm to Barnett and moved to have the sexual battery allegations dismissed because “none of the acts alleged were based on sex and/or the conduct was not sexual”.

The lawyers also said the actor’s “alleged conduct was reasonably necessary for his self-defence and/or safety”.

LaBeouf’s legal team has requested the case be dismissed in its entirety and he be awarded costs and “further relief as the Court may deem just and proper”.

In an email to the New York Times when the lawsuit was filed, LaBeouf said: “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.”

He added that many of the allegations “are not true”. LaBeouf said he was in recovery and therapy over alcoholism and PTSD, adding he “will forever be sorry to the people that I may have harmed along the way”.