Grooming the Rich and Famous for Abuse
The last few months have found wealthy, successful women escaping abusive relationships, with Evan Rachel Wood and FKA twigs prominent among them.
But how do wealthy women who, it seems, could so easily leave, end up in such harrowing circumstances? Actually, theirs is the story we find among most victims of domestic violence, rich or poor: whirlwind romance, controlling behavior, isolation, criticism and verbal abuse leading to violence.
Forewarned is forearmed. What can we learn from the experiences of FKA twigs and Evan Rachel Wood?
Recording artist FKA twigs met and began dating actor Shia LaBeouf on the set of “Honey Boy.” Their early days were filled with “over-the-top displays of affection,” which helped earn her trust, she says.
This is a common tactic of abusive men, who frequently begin a romance as the embodiment of Prince Charming. But if something seems too good to be true, it likely is.
In reality, these men are fantasizing about harming their partners and want them to fall in love both hard and fast. Fast so they can quickly begin the abuse, and hard to keep their lovers coming back once the violence starts. Apologies, professions of love and promises to re-embody the man of her dreams aid the process.
Evan Rachel Wood doesn’t speak of any romantic tsunami emanating from Marilyn Manson, and while there are patterns to domestic violence each situation can vary a bit, so their relationship may or may not have gone through that phase, yet being courted by a famous celebrity might feel something like a fairy tale.
But Manson was likely fantasizing about abusing her, having said that the song “I Want to Kill You Like They Do in the Movies” came from fantasizing daily about “smashing in her skull with a sledgehammer.”
Abusive men work to control their partners’ comings and going’s, their money, what they eat what they wear, who they can see, and on it goes…
Wood says Manson monitored her cellphone and online activities, erupting in fury if she spoke with someone he disapproved of. He also weakened her through starvation and sleep deprivation.
During times when she did leave him he called her incessantly. Manson himself told Spin magazine that after one breakup he called her 158 times in one day. He also threatened to harm or kill himself if she left, and he cut himself with a razor after each of those 158 phone calls.
Twigs was similarly controlled, saying LaBeouf would not let her speak to or look at male waiters, and insisted she keep her eyes down when men spoke to her. He also had rules about how often she must kiss or touch him. Any deviation from those rules sparked a diatribe of criticism.
Isolating the victim from her support system is key, and is also an aspect of controlling behavior.
LaBeouf convinced twigs to stay in Los Angeles with him rather than return to her home in London where her friends and creative team were based. He also criticized her professional network, leading twigs to doubt them, which created still more distance between her and her team.
Similarly, Wood says Manson, “cut me off from my close friends and family one by one, by exhibiting rage in some form or another when I was in contact with them,” adding that “By the time I realized I was in a bad situation, I felt completely trapped and terrified for my life.”
CRITICISM and VERBAL ABUSE
Criticism and verbal abuse often escalate to physical violence. And violence is itself a form of insult communicating, “You’re nothing.”
Twigs recalls how LaBeouf constantly amplified small disagreements (which songwriter is the better artist?) into all-night fights. This, in turn, deprived her of sleep and accelerated the brainwashing. Meanwhile his constant “belittling and berating” as she put it, shrunk her self-esteem, making her easier to control.
Marilyn Manson had a “rape room.” Grammy nominated Phoebe Bridgers was a big fan as a teen but when she and her friends were invited to visit his house he referred to one room as the “rape room.” She stopped being a fan.
Manson used force in sex with Wood. As she related, sometimes he “would not allow me to sleep until I participated in acts of fear, pain, torture and humiliation, which I felt powerless to stop.” Once he forced her to kneel as he tied her hands and feet and then beat and shocked her with something he called a violet wand.
Twigs says LaBeouf committed assault, sexual battery and inflicted emotional distress on her. As when she woke up in the middle of the night to him choking her. Once, during a long road trip he raged and drove recklessly, threatening to crash unless she said she loved him. When he stopped for gas twigs grabbed her bags from the car and fled but LaBeouf caught and assaulted her and then forced her back into the car. When she finally decided to leave for good he unfortunately came home unannounced as she was packing her bags. Angered, he began terrorizing her and locked her in a room.
JEALOUSY: THE EXCUSE FOR ABUSE
Remember that at the beginning of the relationship abusers often pull out the stops, offering extreme charm and romance. This comes in handy when they get to the violent stage. Using jealousy as their excuse for abuse, the abuser hopes his victim will think, “His violent jealousy is a sign that he loves me so much.” And of course, that’s what he tells her when he later “apologizes” and promises the return of Prince Charming.
Wood recalled that Manson “had bouts of extreme jealousy, which would often result in him wrecking our home, cornering me in a room and threatening me.” And jealousy surely figured in LaBeouf’s restriction on twigs’ attention to men.
After all they have been through escape can come to feel difficult or even impossible. Wood says that at one point she thought Manson might kill her. “Not just because my abuser said to me, ‘I could kill you right now.’ But because in that moment, I felt like I left my body. I was too afraid to run, he would find me.”
In fact, she was barely able to process what had happened to her even after she found the strength to leave for good. Playing a character in “Westworld” who moves from naïveté to awareness of evil helped her to see and process more clearly the ordeal she had undergone.
Likewise, escape had come to seem “both difficult and dangerous” to twigs. She talks about her learned helplessness saying, “The whole time I was with him, I could have bought myself a business-flight plane ticket back to my four-story townhouse in Hackney” (in London). But she didn’t because, “He brought me so low, below myself, that the idea of leaving him and having to work myself back up just seemed impossible.”
In truth abusers are most likely to kill their partners when they are exiting the relationship, so careful planning is a must. Consulting a hotline or battered women’s shelter is recommended (see below).
LONG-TERM CONSEQUENCES, PTSD
FKA twigs still has panic attacks almost every night and Evan Rachel Wood says, “So often we speak of these assaults as no more than a few minutes of awfulness, but the scars last a lifetime. For years she has “struggled with depression, addiction, agoraphobia, night terrors” and she has made two suicide attempts. She was eventually diagnosed with PTSD.
But both women are still standing. Twigs and Wood. They bend but don’t break.
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National domestic abuse hotline here. (But Internet usage can be traced.)
1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or 1-800-787-3224 (for hearing impaired)
More warning signs to look out for here.
SOURCES FOR ARTICLE:
New York Times: Evan Rachel Wood Accuses Marilyn Manson of Abuse