Melissa Benoist's Ex-Husband Blake Jenner Admits to Being 'Responsible' for 'Abuse' During Their 'Toxic' Marriage
Blake Jenner is opening up about his past relationship with ex-wife Melissa Benoist — a marriage that he claims was "toxic" and riddled with abuse by both spouses.
In a lengthy Instagram post on Thursday, the Glee actor apologized to Benoist for the "hurt" that he "inflicted" — including emotional, mental and physical pain — during the time that they were together while also making allegations of his own about the Supergirl actress.
A rep for Benoist did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.
"Over the past eleven months, I have been thinking about how to address a personal situation made public in late-2019. Throughout that time, I reflected on a period in my life that I had previously kept in the darkness out of shame and fear, but I know this is something that needs to be addressed, not just publicly, but also privately with the individual directly affected and with myself," Jenner began the post.
"When I was 20 years old, I met a woman and we fell in love," he added. "I didn't realize the magnitude of it back then, but in retrospect, as great as the love that was shared between us, the shared brokenness that stemmed from our childhoods proved to be greater. The passion between us would take us both to some of the most joyous highs, but also to moments of jealousy, bouts of insecurity, and volatility."
"In a way, I think for the both of us, our marriage was a potential for redemption of sorts," he continued. "Even in those moments where I was determined to leave because it would have been the healthier choice, I felt as though I couldn't leave when someone I loved was asking me to stay. It was a relationship with a foundation rooted in co-dependency, which had dire consequences. We were both young and left so much of our brokenness to fester for too long."
The former couple met while playing love interests on Ryan Murphy's musical TV series Glee in 2012. (Jenner later guest-starred on two episodes of CW’s Supergirl in 2016.) They wed in spring 2015 after getting engaged in July 2013.
After less than two years of marriage, Benoist filed for divorce at the end of 2016 citing irreconcilable differences. It was finalized in December 2017.
Though he didn't mention Benoist, 32, by name in his Instagram post, Jenner, 28, did confirm a similar physical abuse allegation made by his ex-wife in November 2019.
Last fall, the actress revealed in a lengthy, emotional video on Instagram that she was a survivor of domestic violence after enduring months of abuse from a younger romantic partner.
The individual, whom she did not identify by name, allegedly threw an iPhone at her face, causing her to suffer major injuries. "The impact tore my iris, nearly ruptured my eyeball, lacerated my skin and broke my nose," Benoist recalled. "My left eye swelled shut. I had a fat lip … Something inside of me broke, this was too far."
After lying to the nurses about her injuries at the hospital, Benoist said she confided in a friend who asked about her partner’s aggressive behaviors — and finally made the difficult decision to leave him.
In his statement, Jenner said he takes "full responsibility and accountability for the hurt that I inflicted during my relationship with my past partner — emotionally, mentally and yes, physically" before detailing the moment he threw a phone "in a moment of frustration."
"Two years prior to the end of our relationship, there was a time where my past partner and I were in an argument that escalated, and in a moment of frustration, while I was standing in the hallway and she was in our bedroom, I threw my phone aimlessly and it hit my former partner in her face. I froze in a state of shock and horror as my then-partner screamed in anguish, her eye immediately swollen shut from the impact of the phone," Jenner admitted.
Reflecting on the incident, Jenner said "it's a moment that I will regret for the rest of my life. She sat there crying and I can only imagine the pain, fear, and shame she must have felt in that moment."
"If I could do anything to take it back, I would. However, as hard as it has been to come to terms with it and as hard as it is for me to even describe that moment in detail now, whatever the intention may have been, I am responsible for the pain that I caused her in that moment and beyond. And it is something I am still working on forgiving myself for," wrote the actor.
Jenner continued by alleging that "there was mental, emotional and physical abuse inflicted from both ends" and that he and Benoist sought out therapy together to help work out their issues.
"Without absolving myself of any responsibility, it is important to understand that there was mental, emotional and physical abuse inflicted from both ends. As a result, my former partner and I began to see a therapist together, but despite numerous attempts to work our issues out, we would find ourselves stuck in this toxic cycle that our relationship became," wrote Jenner.
As to why he decided to speak out about their fractured relationship, Jenner said that it was "important" for him to disclose it.
"I have thought long and hard about whether or not to speak out about the pain that was inflicted onto me throughout the course of this relationship by my former partner; and I have come to the conclusion that yes, it is important for me to do so," he said.
He admitted that through going to individual therapy, he learned about "the false ideas of manhood that were instilled in" him since birth.
"Throughout my years of ongoing therapy, I have had to address why it is that I lived so long in shame over certain traumas that I had experienced over the course of my life as well as the pain that I had experienced within this relationship. I realized that much of it was due to this false sense of masculinity that I felt the need to uphold. In the need to confront that, like so many men, I had lived so much of my life in secrecy and suppression because of the false ideas of manhood that were instilled in me since birth," said Jenner.
Still, "I want to make something very clear: none of this is meant to serve as an excuse, but rather, are realizations that I had throughout my process of healing and reckoning with all that transpired both throughout this relationship and my life," he said. "I also do believe that when allegations and information are brought forth about someone, that accountability goes both ways and one has a right to defend oneself when deemed necessary."
Jenner then went on to make multiple allegations about Benoist, including him being "scratched," "slapped," being "punched in the face" and being "physically assaulted" while in the shower, which left him "with a traumatic injury."
"The mental and emotional abuse began at the start of our relationship. I was made to pass on numerous jobs and opportunities because of jealousy of prospective female costars. I was discouraged from and threatened to not develop relationships with and take photos with female costars at professional events. Threats and derogatory comments were made regarding female colleagues I had worked or was working with. I was made to feel guilty for working as I received calls from my former partner while I was away, threatening self-harm out of depression and a deep-seated fear of abandonment," he claimed.
"I was isolated — prohibited from seeing my friends for years, resulting in this toxic relationship becoming the entirety of my world. I was verbally and emotionally abused for everything from the family I was born into to the clothes I would wear in photoshoots. I was scratched. I was slapped. I was punched in the face, which caused a trip to the hospital to treat my broken nose," Jenner alleged. "I, too, have had to conceal and make up lies about many visible injuries I had incurred throughout the relationship. I was physically assaulted in the shower, leaving me with a traumatic injury that I do not want to delve into at this time."
In her own set of claims about her alleged abuser, Benoist claimed "he didn’t want me ever kissing or even having flirtatious scenes with men, which was very hard for me to avoid, so I began turning down auditions, job offers, test deals, and friendships because I didn’t want to hurt him."
Around five months into their relationship, Benoist said her partner’s actions started to become more violent and physical, with the first occurrence being a smoothie thrown at her face.
The actress admitted she never said anything about the violent encounter out of fear and shame and revealed that her partner continued to abuse her. "The stark truth is I learned what it felt like to be pinned down and slapped repeatedly, punched so hard the wind was knocked out of me, dragged by my hair across pavement, head-butted, pinched until my skin broke, shoved into a wall so hard the drywall broke, choked," she revealed. "I learned to lock myself in rooms but quickly stopped because the door was inevitably broken down. I learned to not value any of my property — replaceable and irreplaceable. I learned not to value myself."
While Jenner claimed that "there are also discrepancies between the recollections of our relationship, its timelines and the things that took place over the years," he said their relationship "was the product of two broken people."
"To get into the specifics would not only be revealing things that I believe my former partner would want respected as they pertain to her personal life, but would inevitably turn this into a she-said-he-said mudslinging match of sorts — and that is the last thing I believe anyone wants. I think what I'm trying to get at is that this relationship — in all of its toxicity and turbulence — was the product of two broken people over the span of years," Jenner wrote. "Although this was spoken about late-last year by my former partner, the fact is, we have not been together in nearly four years; and in that time, and even prior to the dissolution of our relationship, I have worked on my personal issues one-on-one with my therapist, tackling not just the symptoms, but the root causes that gave way to everything that had happened."
"In speaking about my experiences," Jenner said that he wishes "there was a way to convey that it is truly not my wish to drag her down in any way. This is something that I feel as though many people do not understand: I want her to heal, but I, too, want to heal — and I choose to believe that the two are not mutually exclusive. And I think that has probably been one of the most difficult things to navigate because it feels as though my voice no longer matters. Ultimately, however, I want to be the man that I know I can be, extending empathy onto others, and living a life of forgiveness. For others. And for myself."
He proceeded by apologizing "for injecting any ounce of negativity or sorrow into" the world.
"To whoever is reading this, I am sorry for the loss of respect and trust; for injecting any ounce of negativity or sorrow into a world that is already infected with so much sorrow as is; and for coloring the art that you view in any shades other than what is supposed to bring you joy," said Jenner. "To every victim of situational couple violence and any victim of any form of abuse that may have been triggered by our story, I am truly sorry. I know that no statement or letter can convey this, so I will make every attempt to lead with action — I stand with you as a victim myself, I repent for the abuse I inflicted as an aggressor myself, and vow to never retreat to losing who I am ever again."
In the penultimate slide, Jenner made his "most important apology" to Benoist.
"However, the most important apology extends — then and now — to my former partner. I am sorry. There are many things that I wish I could have done differently; and while I wish it did not take the pain that was suffered throughout the course of our relationship, I will never regress to making the same mistakes ever again," he vowed. "I will never stop doing the work necessary to better myself in all areas of my life. I wish you and your family nothing but good health, joy and love."
Reflecting on the four years since they split, Jenner said that he has "grown and learned from the mistakes" that he made.
"After nearly four years since we parted ways, I can unequivocally say that I know who I am and know that I have grown and learned from the mistakes I have made throughout a long period of self-examination and work, but very much understand that I can always learn and continually grow; and I know that is not a lone journey," he said.
"I hope that by me sharing my story, that it can help people, in some capacity, to reflect, listen, and emerge from the shame and secrecy of abuse," he wrote, and concluded: "To you, the reader, wherever you are in the world, thank you for reading my truth. It means more than you know. I hope you are healthy and well."
Benoist is now married to her Supergirl costar Chris Wood. They tied the knot on Sept. 1, 2019, exchanging vows during an intimate wedding ceremony in Ojai, California, according to multiple reports.
Last month, Benoist and Wood welcomed their first child together, son Huxley Robert Wood.
If you are experiencing domestic violence, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233, or go to thehotline.org. All calls are toll-free and confidential. The hotline is available 24/7 in more than 170 languages.
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