Melissa Benoist, 31, is speaking out about her deeply personal experience surviving domestic violence. The Supergirl star made the shocking revelation in an emotional video via Instagram, which showed her reading details of her experience via a written letter. “So I don’t normally do things like this but I’ve written something that I want to share, and I wanted it to stay my words and not have to edit it down for publishing,” she started the 14-minute video. “I’m gonna read it out loud, and I’m quite nervous so bear with me…I am a survivor of domestic violence or [intimate partner violence], which is something I never in my life expected I would say, let alone be broadcasting into the either.” She then delved into the detail about a previous partner that she dated for some time, but did not name him.
“He was a magnanimous person, who didn’t really give you a choice not to be drawn to him,” she continued, adding that they also had a close friendship and that he often made her feel special. “He could be charming, funny, manipulative, devious…He was younger than me, his maturity obvious. For a period of time, I wasn’t interested. I was newly single, gaining my bearing in a change in my life.” While the abuse didn’t begin right away, red flags were imminent: he began invading her privacy by, for example, going through her phone — then further attempting to control her by asking her to change her clothes before going out with him. He then began asserting herself when it came to career opportunities, leading her to turn down opportunities that may have involved scenes with on-screen love interests.
“He loved me. I thought I loved him, and I was going to make it work…None of that registered as abuse, because I was worried about how he felt at that point, to even comprehend how it even affected me,” she continued. “In retrospect, I see that each red flag followed a very clear path on things becoming violent…the stark truth is I learned what it felt like to be pinned down and slapped repeatedly, punched so hard the wind was knocked out of me, dragged by my hair across pavement, head butted, pinched until my skin broke, shoved into a wall so hard the drywall broke, choked,” she detailed. “I learned to lock myself in rooms but quickly stopped because the door was inevitably broken down. I learned to not value any of my property — replaceable and irreplaceable. I learned not to value myself.”
Like many victims, Melissa hid the truth from those closest to her — including friends, family and co-workers — and “changed” to become a person that she “never imagined” she would be. She described her personality at the time as aloof to those around her, adding that she could be difficult to reach by her loved ones due to control of her abuser. Eventually, a close friend began to recognize the signs and asked her if she was suffering from domestic abuse — and a specific incident led her to realize she needed to make a change. “It was a blow to my face with his iPhone,” she explained. “The impact tore my iris, nearly ruptured my eyeball, lacerated my skin and broke my nose. My left I swelled shut. I had a fat lip…Something inside of me broke, this was too far.”
The actress admitted that leaving him was difficult. “I felt complicated feelings of guilt for leaving and for hurting someone I had protected for so long, and yes, mournful feeling of leaving something familiar,” continued in the lengthy video. “But luckily, the people I let in, the more I was bolstered, I never lost the sense of clarity that kept telling me, ‘You do not deserve this.'” In addition to opening up in the clip, she also shared a series of posts to her profile, citing that one in four women are affected by IPV and sharing contact information for those who are looking for support. “Breaking that cycle was the most rewarding, empowering choice I’ve ever made for myself. I feel an enduring strength,” she added. “I will be healing from this for the rest of my life.”
In the years since, Melissa tied the knot with her Supergirl co-star Chris Wood, 31, back in September. The pair — who play couple Kara Danvers, aka Supergirl, and Mon-El in the show — kept things intimate with a small ceremony in Ojai, California. Prior, Melissa was married to her former Glee co-star Blake Jenner, 27, from 2015 – 2017.
If you or someone you love is suffering for domestic abuse, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE or go to the website for more information.