A comedian has written about a past abusive relationship in a frank and moving Instagram post.
On Monday Beth Stelling, a well-known US comedian, uploaded a collage showing photos of her bruised arms and legs alongside a powerful essay detailing the violence and coercion at the hands of her ex.
"When I broke up with my ex this summer, it wasn't because I didn't love him, it was because of this," she wrote alongside the Instagram.
"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."
She also spoke about how difficult she found it to end the relationship: "It's embarrassing. I feel stupid. After being verbally, physically abused and raped, I dated him for two more months. It's not simple."
As a comedian, she often uses "dark" material to make people laugh. But she didn't feel able to directly address her former relationship - until now.
"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."
But, she explained why she now feels compelled to tell her story: "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."
- Refuge - Domestic violence help for women and children - 0808 2000 247
- Visit Women's Aid - support for abused women and children – or call the National Domestic Violence Helpline, run by Women’s Aid and Refuge, on 0808 2000 247
- Broken Rainbow - The LGBT domestic violence charity - 0845 2 60 55 60
- Men’s Advice Line for advice and support for men experiencing domestic violence and abuse - 0808 801 0327