Lauren Mayberry, the lead singer of the Scottish electropop band Chvrches, has a message for women: Emotional abuse is real, and it leaves behind scars, too.
The 28-year-old musician knows from first-hand experience — and now she’s writing about it.
In today’s Lenny Letter, the recently-launched feminist newsletter created by Lena Dunham and Jenni Konner, the musician penned a moving personal essay revealing her experience being in an emotionally abusive relationship and her struggles to leave it.
“He hated me, but then he loved me and I was the best person in the world — until I wasn’t anymore,” she wrote. “After being immersed in that situation for so long, I began to question my own competence and distrust my own opinions, and my physical and mental health deteriorated to a point that caused friends and family to intervene.”
The singer called for victims to recognize that psychological abuse is domestic abuse and should never be dismissed as somehow less egregious.
“A relationship can be deeply damaging without anyone leaving marks on you. So many people — especially young women — end up trying to maintain those emotionally abusive relationships because we don’t think it’s that bad and that we are really some of the lucky ones because we haven’t experienced ‘real’ abuse,” she wrote. “I know that the boundaries I create deserve to be respected. That self-care is not the same as selfishness. That this is my life, my voice, my body, my rules, and that no one gets to determine my narrative apart from me.”
While sharing her personal experience with emotional abuse is new territory for Mayberry — “I normally avoid discussing my personal life in the media,” she said — the journalist-turned-synth sensation has frequently used her sharp wit and feminist chops to speak out against misogynist culture, particularly the rampant sexual harassment targeting female musicians in the digital space.
Mayberry has drawn attention to threats from Internet trolls by posting screenshots of the alarmingly violent tweets, 4chan threads, and Instagram and Facebook comments she receives. The screengrabs showcase an endless slew of misogynist attacks, including graphic rape threats.
“Women are spoken to like this every day, and not just those deemed to be in the public eye,” she wrote in 2013 after receiving several graphic rape threats in a Facebook comment thread.
In August, after anonymous 4chan commenters blasted Mayberry for wearing a short dress in a music video and called her a “whore” and a “slut,” she took to Twitter: “Dear anyone who thinks misogyny isn’t real. It is and this is what it looks like.”
Mayberry’s essay on emotional abuse will be published tomorrow in full on lennyletter.com.