Stand-up comedian Beth Stelling is used to sharing her life through her stand up comedy routines. But recently she shared a lot more than just funny stories. For months, Stelling had held back a secret: she was in an abusive relationship and stayed with her abuser for two months before breaking up with him. She’s taken the brave step of opening up on Instagram about her experience of verbal abuse, physical assault, and rape, and how hard it was to escape him.
Stelling wrote the post after she finally started talking about her abuse on stage. For some time, her ex convinced her to not talk about him, since the community in LA would know who she was talking about.
She had to open up. “I don’t want revenge or to hurt him now, but it’s unhealthy to keep this inside because my stand-up is pulled directly from my life,” she wrote. Since Stelling shared her experience on stage, her fans have come up to her after shows to give support and ask her to continue spreading the word.
So she did. On Instagram. And her post has received thousands of likes and comments already.
Here’s the full caption:
Same girl in all of these photos (me). I’ve had an amazing year and you’ve seen the highlights here, so these photos are an uncommon thing to share but not an uncommon issue. You may be weirded out but do read on. I have a point. There are many reasons not to make an abusive relationship public, mostly fear. Scared of what people will think, scared it makes me look weak or unprofessional.
When I broke up with my ex this summer, it wasn’t because I didn’t love him, it was because of this. And I absolutely relapsed and contacted him with things I shouldn’t have, but there are no “best practices” with this. When friends or comics ask why we broke up it’s not easy or comfortable to reply; it doesn’t seem like the appropriate thing to say at a stand-up show, a party or a wedding. It’s embarrassing. I feel stupid. After being verbally, physically abused and raped, I dated him for two more months. It’s not simple.
After I broke up with him he said, “You’re very open and honest in your stand-up, and I just ask that you consider me when you talk about your ex because everyone knows who you’re talking about.” And I abided. I wrote vague jokes because we both live in L.A. and I didn’t want to hurt him, start a war, press charges, be interrogated or harassed by him or his friends and family. I wanted to move on and forget because I didn’t understand. I don’t want revenge or to hurt him now, but it’s unhealthy to keep this inside because my stand-up is pulled directly from my life. It’s how I make my living. My personal is my professional. That is how I’ve always been; I make dark, funny.
So now I’m allowing this to be part of my story. It’s not my only story, so please don’t let it be. If you live in L.A., you’ve already started to hear my jokes about this and I ask you to have the courage to listen and accept it because I’m trying. Already since talking about this onstage, many women have come to me after shows asking me to keep doing it. Men have shown their solidarity.
An ex-girlfriend of this ex-boyfriend came to me and shared that she experienced the same fate. Then there was another and another (men and women) who shared other injustices at his hand that..
If you or someone you know needs help, contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline on 1800 737 732.
Images courtesy of Instagram