After years of speculation about Britney Spears' well-being, #FreeBritney supporters and fans finally heard from the 39-year-old pop star herself on Wednesday when she asked to be freed from her long-running conservatorship.
Speaking to a Los Angeles judge via a virtual court appearance, Spears asked for an end to the legal arrangement that has given her father and a number of lawyers control over her money and life since 2008. In doing so, the pop star made a number of shocking revelations about how she has been treated over the past 13 years and why she wants to take back control of her life.
Here’s what Spears told the court:
Spears isn’t OK
Despite Instagram posts featuring her dancing or smiling, the singer said it was all a lie.
“After I’ve lied and told the whole world I’m OK and I’m happy, it’s a lie,” she said. “I thought just maybe I said that enough. Because I’ve been in denial. I’ve been in shock. I am traumatized. You know, fake it till you make it. But now I’m telling you the truth, OK? I’m not happy. I can’t sleep. I’m so angry. It’s insane. And I’m depressed. I cry every day.”
Spears said she hasn’t been allowed to get her IUD removed
The singer said she’d like to have another child, but her conservators won’t allow her to make the necessary doctor’s appointment to remove her IUD “because they don’t want [her] to have any more children.”
She also said she’d like to get married to her boyfriend, Sam Asghari, who pleased fans by posting a selfie wearing a #FreeBritney T-shirt to his Instagram story on Wednesday.
“So basically this conservatorship is doing me way more harm than good,” she said. “I deserve to have a life. I’ve worked my whole life. I deserve to have a two- to three-year break and just, you know, do what I want to do."
Spears wants to be free
“I need your help,” the pop star and mother of two told the judge, saying she wants to end the conservatorship without having to go through an official evaluation, which is typically required to end the arrangement and would score her fitness to lead her own life.
She also said her conservators have used biweekly meetings as bargaining chips for her money and freedom.
“It's not OK to force me to do anything I don't want to do,” Spears said. “Honestly, I should be able to sue them for threatening me and saying if I don't go and do these meetings twice a week, 'We can't let you have your money and go to Maui on your vacations.’ I don't want to do that. And I haven't done anything to deserve this treatment.”
Spears made sure the public heard her story
“They’ve done a good job at exploiting my life,” Spears said when an attorney representing her co-conservator argued the hearing and transcript should be kept private, the AP reported. “I feel like it should be an open court hearing and they should listen and hear what I have to say.”
She compared her experience to sex trafficking
After she failed a psych test, Spears said she was forced to pay $60,000 a month to live in a home in Beverly Hills “to do a small rehab program.” While there, she described how she was forced to work without access to her credit card, cash, phone, and passport.
"The only similar thing to this is called sex trafficking,” she said.
Spears said she was also under 24-hour surveillance in the house, even when getting dressed. And if she failed to attend a meeting or work (without days off), she would not be allowed to see her two sons or boyfriend.
She said her therapist believed lies from others
Spears said that when she refused to participate in a Las Vegas residency, her therapist received “a million phone calls” about her behavior in rehearsals and failure to take her medication.
"All this was false — he immediately, the next day, put me on lithium out of nowhere. He took me off my normal meds I’ve been on for five years,” Spears said, adding that the drug was much stronger than what she was used to and it made her feel drunk.
“I couldn’t even have a conversation with my mom or dad really about anything,” she said, adding that her doctor had nurses at her home to monitor the medication. “There were six different nurses in my home, and they wouldn’t let me get in my car to go anywhere for a month.”
She went on to say her dad was “all for it.”
Spears said her father should be in jail
Her father, Jamie Spears, serves as co-conservator and has maintained control over most aspects of her career and personal life. She said her father “loved the control to hurt his own daughter 100,000%.”
“Ma’am, my dad and anyone involved in this conservatorship and my management who played a key role in punishing me — ma’am, they should be in jail,” she said.
Her father’s attorney later gave a statement saying he is “sorry to see his daughter suffering and in so much pain.”
Spears addressed her family’s culpability
Spears spoke directly about her family, including her sister, Jamie Lynn Spears; her brother, Bryan Spears; and mother, Lynne Spears.
“I would honestly like to sue my family, to be totally honest with you,” Spears said. “I also would like to be able to share my story with the world, and what they did to me, instead of it being a hush-hush secret to benefit all of them. I want to be able to be heard on what they did to me by making me keep this in for so long. ... I’ve been so angry and I cry every day. It concerns me. I’m told I’m not allowed to expose the people who did this to me.”
Conservatorships shouldn’t be used like this
“It makes no sense,” she said. “The laws need to change.”
She added that her experience has been “demoralizing” and “embarrassing,” especially regarding people questioning her mental health.
"All I want is to own my money and for this to end and for my boyfriend to be able to drive me in his fucking car,” Spears said.
The loss of her independence has been particularly hard for someone who has been working since she was 17.
“You have to understand how that is for me every morning. I can’t go somewhere unless I meet people I don’t know every week in our office, identical to the one where the therapist was very abusive to me,” she said. “I truly believe this conservatorship is abusive, and that we can sit here all day and say, 'Oh, conservatorships are here to help people.' But, ma’am, there’s a thousand conservatorships that are abusive as well.”
The revelations sparked a wave of support
The #FreeBritney community was sent into overdrive as Spears' revelations in court became public. Celebs from Vera Wang to Halsey and Rose McGowan also voiced their support.
Justin Timberlake, who apologized for his behavior toward his ex after the airing of Framing Britney Spears, also tweeted in support, saying "what’s happening to her is just not right."
Stephanie Baer contributed reporting to this story.