Pop music icon Britney Spears stunned the public with a series of revelations about the terms of her conservatorship on Wednesday, telling a judge overseeing the legal arrangement that it is “abusive” and has left her “traumatised.”
The singer, 39, spoke before Judge Brenda Penny after asking for the chance to address the court in her own words. Her testimony, delivered by phone, lasted about 20 minutes. It was the first time she appeared before the court regarding her conservatorship in two years.
“They’ve done a good job at exploiting my life,” she said of her conservators, which include her father, Jamie Spears; a woman named Jodi Montgomery; and the group Bessemer Trust. She has been under the conservatorship since 2008 after she was hospitalised for a psychiatric evaluation.
“I’ve lied and told the whole world I’m OK and I’m happy,” Britney said, referencing messages she’s put out on social media in recent months. “If I said that enough, maybe I’d become happy.”
Here are some of the most alarming things she said in court on Wednesday.
She alleges she’s been forced to be on birth control despite wanting a baby.
In one of the more heartbreaking moments from her testimony, Britney said the conservatorship ― which essentially puts all her major decision-making into the hands of those appointed by the court ― has forced her to be on birth control, even though she wants to have another child.
“I want to get married and have a baby,” said Britney, who’s been in a relationship with model Sam Asghari since meeting on the set of one of her music videos in 2016. “I have a device inside of me that means I can’t have a baby. I want it taken out, but they won’t take me to the doctor to get it taken out,” she said, ostensibly referring to an intrauterine device (IUD).
She says she was forced to take the drug lithium.
Britney said that after she went on hiatus from her Las Vegas residency in early 2019, her conservators forced her to take the drug lithium, a type of mood stabiliser used to treat various disorders.
The drug made her lose her bearings, she said.
“It’s a strong drug. You can go mentally impaired if you stay on it longer than five months,” she said. “I felt drunk. I couldn’t even have a conversation with my mom or dad about anything. They had me with six different nurses.”
Britney also said she felt overwhelmed by the number of therapy sessions her conservators require her to attend, especially outside her home at locations where photographers camp out. She is willing to attend sessions once a week at home, she said.
She likened her forced work to “sex trafficking.”
Britney said that even though she repeatedly told her father she was unhappy with the terms of her conservatorship, he did not listen to her concerns. He and the other conservators instead forced her to perform against her will, both on tour and in Las Vegas.
“The control he had to hurt his own daughter ― he loved it,” Britney said. “I worked seven days a week ... It was like sex trafficking. I didn’t have a credit card, cash or my passport.”
If she is able to do they work her conservators are asking her to, she should not be under this legal arrangement, Britney said: “I should not be in a conservatorship like this if I can work, provide for myself and provide for other people.”
She wants to sue her family.
Britney wants to take legal action against her family members who have benefitted from the conservatorship, which pays a hefty amount. Her father reportedly receives $16,000 a month for his role, and she has to pay for his legal team to fight her in court.
“I want to sue my family,” Britney said. “They should be in jail. I just want my life back.”
She feels silenced from speaking out about her situation.
Britney described a life in which she’s coerced into staying quiet about her pain and distress.
“I wish I could stay with you on the phone forever, because when I get off the phone with you, all of a sudden all I hear is, I hear all these ‘no’s,’” she told the judge. “All of a sudden I feel ganged up on, and I feel bullied and I feel left out and alone.”
She also revealed that she didn’t even know she could petition to end the conservatorship ― something her attorney, Sam Ingham, should have informed her of.
Britney said her lawyer, whom she claims she was not allowed to choose on her own, also told her she could not speak out about her situation.
“My attorney says I can’t let the public know what they did to me,” she told the judge.
Britney said she has lost faith in the people entrusted with her care. “I’m scared of people,” she said. “I don’t trust people with what I’ve been through.”