As FKA twigs told Elle, "It's hard to do this publicly…but I want people to know my story. If I can't help people through my experience, it makes my experience 10 times worse. There has to be a point to this—a reason why this happened to me."
After the 33-year-old performer went public in a lawsuit filed in December about the abuse she allegedly suffered from her ex-boyfriend Shia LaBeouf, she is now sharing more of her personal story as the cover star of Elle's March 2021 issue. In her interview with the magazine, she candidly declared, "It's a miracle I came out alive."
Her words are chilling, especially as she recalled to the magazine LaBeouf, 34, allegedly driving maniacally as they headed back home following a night at a hotel spa for Valentine's Day, the same incident mentioned in her lawsuit. The Disturbia actor purportedly demanded she profess her love, while his speeding and swerving into traffic made her contemplate what would happen to her if they crashed.
"I was thinking to myself, 'I wonder what would happen to my body...if [we] smashed into a wall at 80 miles per hour?' 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?'" she told Elle. "I was thinking, 'Oh no, if I crouch like that, and the front of the car crashes into my head, will it snap my neck?'"
After he pulled over, the singer says she tried to remove her bags and escape, but she was stopped when LaBeouf allegedly slammed her up against the car and tried to choke her. The night before at the hotel, he allegedly began to strangle her after she woke up to him on top of her.
In her interview with Elle, twigs, whose real name is Tahliah Debrett Barnett, recalled how he allegedly often disrupted her sleep by waking her up with accusations, including that she was masturbating or plotting her escape. Before she went to sleep, she claimed he forced her to watch true-crime documentaries about women suffering violence. LaBeouf also allegedly kept a gun in the bedroom.
"I would say to him, 'I really don't want to watch stuff like this before I go to bed. I'm sensitive, it affects me,'" she told Elle. "It was so dark, and I was just like, 'I can't be totally immersed in this all the time.' I was very intimidated living with him. He had a gun by the side of the bed and was erratic. [I never knew what would] make him angry with me."
The alleged abuse not only took its toll on twigs, but on her relationships with other people. "One time, he heard me laughing on FaceTime with my friend. He came in and had a massive argument with me because he said he doesn't make me laugh like that," she recalled. "So then I had to hide laughing with my friends. It's [about] isolation, so I don't talk to my friends. He hated that I had an experience to myself [with] something that didn't involve him, a memory that gave me joy...He made me feel like I wasn't allowed joy, basically. That's what it boils down to: I wasn't allowed joy unless it directly revolved around him."
Her embarrassment also held her back from accepting help after she reached out to friends. "I used to get this feeling of intense fear and shame," she told the magazine, "and I would evaporate from people's lives."
And then there were people who allegedly turned a blind eye. "There [were] people who have worked with Shia that I openly spoke to about the abuse that I was going through," she said, recalling their appearance at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2019 to promote Honey Boy. Without specifying who she spoke to, twigs added, "The reaction that I got [from his team] was pretty much, 'Okay. Well, it's Sundance.'"
E! News has reached out to LaBeouf's rep and attorney for comment on twigs' interview. In an official response to her lawsuit that LaBeouf and his lawyers filed on Feb. 5, the Pieces of a Woman actor denied "each and every" allegation made by his ex and claimed she "has not suffered any injury or damage as a result of [his] actions." His team also does not believe twigs is entitled to any relief or damages.
However, following the release of a preview of an upcoming interview between twigs and Gayle King to air on CBS This Morning, LaBeouf's attorney Shawn Holley told NBC News in a statement, "A lawyer issuing general denials to all the allegations in a lawsuit is standard procedure in civil practice and signals nothing about Shia's past statements or his acceptance of responsibility for things he has done wrong. Nothing has changed."
In a previous email to The New York Times, LaBeouf wrote, "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 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."
In response to the claims Karolyn Pho, another former girlfriend of LaBeouf's, and twigs made in the lawsuit and to the Times, LaBeouf told the newspaper in a separate email that "many of these allegations are not true." He also said he owed the women "the opportunity to air their statements publicly and accept accountability for those things I have done."
Now, nearly two years since their May 2019 split, twigs credits "pure luck" for why she's "not in that situation anymore."
"People wouldn't think that it would happen to a woman like me," she said. "The biggest misconception is, 'Well, you're smart. If it was that bad, why didn't you leave?'" As twigs told the magazine, "It can happen to anyone."
For more of the extensive interview, read Elle's article here. The March 2021 issue hits newsstands on March 2.