Beth Stelling Opens Up About Abusive Relationship, Shares Photos of Bruises: Details on the Comedian’s Brave Decision

Beth Stelling
Beth Stelling Scott Dudelson/Getty Images

Beth Stelling is putting it all out there. The Los Angeles-based comedian made the brave decision to go public about her struggles with an abusive ex-boyfriend on Instagram.

On Monday, December 28, Stelling posted a series of photos of her bruised legs and arm. Her lengthy caption outlined the abuse and hurt she suffered during their relationship.

“Same girl in all of these photos (me)," she began. “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… 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.”

Same girl in all of these photos (me). 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. When I broke up with my ex this summer, it wasn't because I didn't love him, it was because of this. And I absolutely relapsed and contacted him with things I shouldn’t have, but there are no “best practices” with this. When friends or comics ask why we broke up it's not easy or comfortable to reply; it doesn't seem like the appropriate thing to say at a stand-up show, a party or a wedding. It's embarrassing. I feel stupid. After being verbally, physically abused and raped, I dated him for two more months. It's not simple. 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. 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. If you live in L.A., you've already started to hear my jokes about this and I ask you to have the courage to listen and accept it because I’m trying. Already since talking about this onstage, many women have come to me after shows asking me to keep doing it. Men have shown their solidarity. An ex-girlfriend of this ex-boyfriend came to me and shared that she experienced the same fate. Then there was another and another (men and women) who shared other injustices at his hand that..

A post shared by Beth Stelling (@bethstelling) on

Stelling didn’t name her ex-boyfriend, but noted that the former pair shared many mutual friends, who’ve asked about the failed relationship and what went wrong.

“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. “After being verbally, physically abused and raped, I dated him for two more months. It's not simple.”

She further noted that her ex explicitly asked her to leave him out of her regular stand-up routine and she 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," she continued. “I wanted to move on and forget because I didn’t understand. 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.”

Beth Stelling performs onstage at 'Hey Buddy. A Free Comedy Show' in 2014.
Beth Stelling performs onstage at 'Hey Buddy. A Free Comedy Show' in 2014. Scott Dudelson/FilmMagic

Stelling feels it’s her responsibility to continue talking about tough topics like rape and abuse in her stand-up routines. She says she has already seen a positive response and has even heard from others who have encountered this particular ex-boyfriend.

“An ex-girlfriend of this ex-boyfriend came to me and shared that she experienced the same fate,” Stelling wrote. “Then there was another and another (men and women) who shared other injustices at his hand that shattered my belief that I was an exception. I am not alone; unfortunately I’m in a line of smart, funny women who experienced this from the same man in our L.A. comedy community.”

If you or someone you know is suffering from domestic abuse, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE.

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