Melissa Benoist's Bravery

Revelation Of Abuse Comes Shrouded With Mystery And Emotion

Melissa Benoist's Bravery

Melissa Benoist recently admitted she was a part of a larger statistic.

In an emotionally charged Instagram video, #MelissaBenoist disclosed something that she'd been keeping a secret for a few years; she'd been a vicim of intimate partner violence.

According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, nearly 20 people per minute on average are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States. That roughly equates to 10 million women and men annually.

Roughly "1 in 4 women and 1 in 9 men experience severe intimate partner physical violence, intimate partner contact sexual violence, and/or intimate partner stalking with impacts such as injury, fearfulness, post-traumatic stress disorder, use of victim services, contraction of sexually transmitted diseases," and other potential impacts.

It was a bit of a stunning revelation from television's #Supergirl. Generally, #Benoist has been known for her youthful good looks and cheerful smile, not necessarily for hiding a dark secret that would ultimately lead to theories about who had been the intimate partner who Benoist had said abused her.

What people need to remember, though, is that there was no apparent trigger for Benoist's revelation. It wasn't any sort of awareness month; in fact, Domestic Violence Awareness Month was October. There was no awareness day. From what it seems, Benoist's video where she discussed the details — apart from no mention of who this partner was at the time — appeared on Instagram unprompted.

Benoist's husband, Christopher Wood, hit Twitter to express his admiration for his wife.

"Happy Thanksgiving! I’m going to kiss my wife and hold her tenderly," he tweeted. "All day. And every day. How do YOU show love?"

He closed his tweet with the hashtag #IStandWithMelissa, which briefly trended on Twitter Wednesday, November 27.

I'm sure there will be those who believe that, for whatever reason, Benoist has made up the entire story, or that she's revealing it now for undetermined reasons. However, I want to invite those that might doubt the veracity of her claims to consider that sometimes, after those who have experienced abuse have processed what happened to them or after they have managed to get out of the abusive situation, they are ready to talk if for no other reason than it's simply time for them to talk.

The thing of it is, what you deem to be an appropriate amount of time to process a traumatic event or series of events such as abuse may not even be the proverbial drop in the bucket for those who actually went through the traumatic event. That's why many individuals who have gone through trauma say nothing about what happened to them for years. They potentially may have been told no one would believe them if they said anything, or they are too embarrassed to say anything. The reasons are varied, and frequently, abusers will ultimately convince their victim that there is nothing to be gained by disclosing the abuse, because they are somehow worthless and no one will care.

It takes a whole lot of courage to step forward and acknowledge that something traumatic happened to you. Benoist's video is a stark reminder that while celebrities seem to truly have the best life, for the most part, there is still the potential for darkness and trauma, as happens to anyone. Celebrity status does not make anyone immune to the potential of being abused, just as it doesn't make anyone immune to the potential of becoming addicted to drugs and alcohol.

Benoist clearly stated in her Twitter post, which contained a link to the 14-minute Instagram video, that she felt it was time to talk about her relationship with Intimate Partner Violence, and while I'm sure she made the video with the belief that it was just time to talk about it as it is chronically underreported, I'm certain she would have been aware that her revelation would have sparked endless rounds of speculation as to who, exactly, her abuser was. It was intimated by many Twitter pundits that Benoist's unnamed abuser could have been #BlakeJenner, her ex-husband and Glee co-star, especially given the timing of a particularly terrible eye injury that she discussed on The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon shortly after her casting on Supergirl in 2015. Benoist and Jenner were married from 2015 to 2017.

In the end, it does not matter who her abuser was. Benoist should be applauded for shedding further light on a dark secret that shrouds too many people's lives. She should be praised for taking the time to go through therapy and the healing process from the abuse, though I'm certain she will carry the scars from this abusive relationship for a lifetime. Finally, I'm hopeful that others - male, female, or anyone else who's along the gender spectrum - will learn from her example and talk about abuse and escape the violence.

activism
Christina St-Jean
Christina St-Jean
Read next: The State
Christina St-Jean

I'm a high school English and French teacher who trains in the martial arts and works towards continuous self-improvement.

See all posts by Christina St-Jean