On Friday, the New York Times reported that singer FKA Twigs, 32, is suing actor and director Shia LaBeouf for physical, emotional, and sexual abuse. In an interview with the Times, Twigs, whose real name is Tahliah Barnett, alleged that the 34-year-old actor, whom she met on the set of his 2018 film Honey Boy, “relentless[ly]” abused her, physically and emotionally, knowingly giving her an unidentified sexually transmitted infection, and battered her on numerous occasions. In court documents, she alleges that he stored firearms in the home, strangled her on Valentine’s Day 2019, forcibly slammed Barnett against his car and then tried to strangle her. She also claimed that on several occasions, he would forcibly squeeze her arm to the point of bruising and that he controlled how many times she touched or kissed him per day, as well as whether she would wear clothes to bed.
“I just thought to myself, no one is ever going to believe me,” Barnett told the New York Times, regarding her decision not to report LaBeouf’s behavior to authorities. “I’m unconventional. And I’m a person of color who is a female.” She eventually did leave him with the help of a therapist in 2019, prompting LaBoeuf to “violently grab” her and lock her in a room, she alleged.
The court filing also contains allegations of abuse from Karolyn Pho, a stylist who LaBeouf dated from 2010 to 2011. According to the lawsuit, LaBeouf inflicted physical and emotional abuse, “fueled by his jealous, impulsive, and irrational ways.” In one incident described in the suit, after vomiting and passing out from drunkenness, LaBeouf allegedly climbed on top of Pho while she was sleeping and “held her down by her arms, causing intense pain and leaving multiple bruises, and then headbutted her violently, causing her to bleed on the hotel bed.” The suit concludes that Pho and Barnett teamed up “in order to protect women from ever again having to endure LaBeouf’s abuse.”
Almost immediately, the musician Sia came forward to support Barnett’s allegations, tweeting, along with a link to the New York Times article: “I too have been hurt emotionally by Shia, a pathological liar, who conned me into an adulterous relationship claiming to be single. I believe he’s very sick and have compassion for him and his victims. Just know, if you love yourself – stay safe, stay away.”
This is not the first time that LaBeouf has faced allegations of violence. As the lawsuit points out, he has been arrested multiple times over the years for drunk and disorderly behavior and as recently as September 2020 he was arrested and charged with battery for allegedly trying to violently steal a man’s hat. (In 2017, he pleaded guilty in Georgia to one count of obstruction after he was arrested on charges of disorderly conduct and public intoxication; he was sentenced to probation and community service.) In 2015, Entertainment Weekly reported that he was involved in an altercation in Germany with his then-wife, British model Mia Goth, that culminated with her angrily driving away. “I don’t want to touch a woman, I don’t want to hit a woman, but I’m getting pushed,” LaBeouf reportedly said to friends at a time, later telling a local, “If I’d have stayed there, I would have killed her.” No charges resulted from the incident. In the past, he’s apologized for his actions, attributing the altercations to his struggle with addiction.
LaBeouf’s representatives did not immediately return requests for comment. But in emails to the New York Times, LaBeouf acknowledged the allegations in the lawsuit. “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.”