But living with him became frightening, she said. The lawsuit says that he kept a loaded firearm by the bed and that she was scared to use the bathroom at night lest he mistake her for an intruder and shoot her. He didn’t let her wear clothing to bed, and would spin a trifling disagreement — over an artist she liked and he didn’t, for example — into an all-night fight, depriving her of sleep, the suit says.
The situation came just as she was completing what became her most critically lauded album, “Magdalene.” Ms. Barnett said she found herself in stasis, struggling to fulfill her professional duties, and confounding her friends and colleagues. “Twigs is always the driving force behind her career — always a step ahead of everyone else,” said her longtime manager, Michael Stirton. “This was an extreme change in her personality and character.” The album’s release was delayed multiple times, and a tour was rescheduled at great cost, Mr. Stirton said, as Ms. Barnett receded. “I could speak to her,” he said. “But I couldn’t reach her.”
As Ms. Barnett grew more isolated, she said she felt as though her safety nets were unraveling. The gas station incident had happened in public, she said, and no one stepped to her aid; an early attempt she made to tell a colleague was brushed off. “I just thought to myself, no one is ever going to believe me,” she said in an interview. “I’m unconventional. And I’m a person of color who is a female.”
Slowly, with the help of a therapist, she began to strategize her exit. While she was packing to leave in spring 2019, Mr. LaBeouf turned up unannounced and terrorized her, according to a sworn statement from a witness, her housekeeper, in the lawsuit. When Ms. Barnett wouldn’t leave with him, the statement says, he “violently grabbed” her, picked her up and locked her in another room, where he yelled at her.
Escaping him began to seem “both difficult and dangerous,” the lawsuit says. And even as she grew in resolve, she felt overwhelmed, she told her therapist, in an email The Times has reviewed. Though she had the means, it took several attempts for Ms. Barnett to extricate herself, she said in an interview. And it was only afterward that she realized how broken down she had become.
“The whole time I was with him, I could have bought myself a business-flight plane ticket back to my four-story townhouse in Hackney,” in London, she said. And yet she didn’t. “He brought me so low, below myself, that the idea of leaving him and having to work myself back up just seemed impossible,” she said.