During a Valentine's Day getaway last year, actor Shia LaBeouf woke up his then-girlfriend FKA Twigs by towering over her and violently squeezing her body and arms so that she was trapped, the singer said in a lawsuit filed Friday.
LaBeouf then put his hands around her neck, the complaint states, strangling the Grammy-nominated performer while whispering, "if you don’t stop you are going to lose me."
FKA Twigs, whose legal name is Tahliah Barnett, filed the lawsuit against her former boyfriend in Los Angeles County Superior Court, accusing LaBeouf of being repeatedly physically and emotionally abusive during their 2018–19 relationship and knowingly infecting her with a sexually transmitted infection.
“Shia LaBeouf hurts women. He uses them. He abuses them, both physically and mentally. He is dangerous,” Barnett, a successful performer and dancer whose last album, Magdalene, was critically acclaimed, states in the complaint.
“What I went through with Shia was the worst thing I’ve ever been through in the whole of my life,” Barnett told the New York Times, which first published the allegations.
In an Instagram post on Friday, Barnett said, "it may be surprising to you to learn that i was in an emotionally and physically abusive relationship. it was hard for me to process too, during and after i never thought something like this would happen to me. which is why i have decided it’s important for me to talk about it and try to help people understand that when you are under the coercive control of an abuser or in an interpersonal violent relationship leaving doesn’t feel like a safe or achievable option."
The 32-year-old also wrote, "i hope that by sharing my experience i can truly help others feel like they are not alone."
LaBeouf's representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but he told the Times in a statement that while not all of the allegations were true, he needed to "accept accountability for those things I have done.”
“I have no excuses for my alcoholism or aggression, only rationalizations. I have been abusive to myself and everyone around me for years," LaBeouf told the Times. "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."
The Transformers star has a controversial history, with multiple arrests, including for drunken disorderly conduct after he interrupted a Broadway performance in 2014, and assault after he punched a man during a protest in 2017.
“For too long, LaBeouf has sought to excuse his reprehensible actions as the eccentricities of a free-thinking ‘artist,'" Barnett's complaint states.
The pair started dating after they worked together in 2018 on Honey Boy, a film LaBeouf wrote based on his childhood. After just a few months of dating, LaBeouf convinced Barnett to move into his Los Angeles home — the UK singer is normally based in London — and that's where his abusive behavior began, the lawsuit alleges.
The 16-page complaint outlines a series of other allegations, including that the actor forced Barnett to stay up all night while he yelled at her, kept loaded guns by the bed as they slept so she feared going to the bathroom at night, boasted of driving around Los Angeles and shooting stray dogs, and kept a tally of how many kisses she gave him daily and berated her if she didn't meet a target.
One day after strangling Barnett in February 2019 during a Valentine's Day getaway, the complaint also states LaBeouf threw her to the ground outside the hotel.
Also according to the complaint, LaBeouf then drove recklessly on their way home, threatening to crash the car if Barnett did not profess her love for him. When they stopped at a gas station, LaBeouf allegedly threw her against the car and “attempted to strangle her violently while screaming in her face" after she tried to leave.
Barnett's housekeeper is also quoted in the complaint regarding a March 2019 incident in which the actor came home as she was packing to leave.
LaBeouf "violently grabbed" Barnett and "lifted her off the ground," the housekeeper, who is not named, stated. "He forcibly carried her into a separate room. I then heard the door to this room lock from the inside."
That same month, Barnett says she began experiencing “unusual and painful physical symptoms.” When she confronted LaBeouf, the complaint states, "he admitted that he suffered from a sexually transmitted disease which had been diagnosed years earlier" and attempted to hide his symptoms from Barnett.
The lawsuit also includes statements from another ex-girlfriend of LaBeouf's, Karolyn Pho, who had similar stories of physical and emotional abuse, including that the actor threatened to kill her during their decadelong relationship.
In February 2012, in a New York City hotel room, Pho says, she woke up to LaBeouf on top of her “drunk, naked, wet, and screaming.”
Pho also says the actor held her down by her arms, leaving multiple bruises, and headbutted her so violently that she bled on the bed.
“Shia LaBoeuf has abused Ms. Barnett, Ms.Pho and others," Bryan Freedman, Barnett's attorney, told BuzzFeed News in a statement. "We tried to resolve this matter privately on the condition that Mr. LaBeouf agree to receive meaningful and consistent psychological treatment. Since he was unwilling to agree to get appropriate help, Ms. Barnett filed this suit to prevent others from unknowingly suffering similar abuse by him."
The complaint notes that a significant portion of any payout from LaBeouf would go to charities for domestic violence survivors.