Debby Ryan Reveals She Was in an Abusive Relationship: Once Someone “Puts Their Hand on You,” It’s Over

Debby Ryan
Debby Ryan opens up about her past abusive relationship with a former friend JB Lacroix/WireImage

Jessie star Debby Ryan is opening up. The Disney star, 21, admitted to Teen Vogue she survived an abusive relationship.

“People that demand your password and always look over your shoulder, ask who you’re texting, and grab your phone and let themselves in — that’s not okay,” she told the magazine. “The time I decided to get out wasn’t too late, but it was really, really late in the game. I’m very fortunate because I had people help me get this person out of my life, out of my house — like physically lock the door.”

Ryan said this person, a man, wasn’t someone she was dating but, instead, “Considered themselves my best friend.”

“We had a professional relationship and it was such emotional manipulation to the point where it became physical, and it stopped before it got too far,” Ryan explained. “The second someone puts their hand on you, a boundary has been crossed. If anyone is feeling manipulated or abused, that’s the best it’s going to get and you have to fight for yourself now.” 

Ryan related that things escalated when she told the person to leave her life. “I hadn’t talked to him in a month,” she continued. “I told him to leave my life. So he threw a phone at me and it shattered to pieces and he was screaming, punching the wall, and cussing me out,” Ryan recalled. “Then he started bawling and said he’s sorry and loves me.” (Ryan took pains to clarify that her former relationship with Twenty One Pilots drummer Josh Dun was never abusive.)

The star is now an advocate for “Don’t Look Away,” a domestic violence campaign. By texting "love is" to 22522, teens and young adults can receive help from trained peer advocates anytime, anywhere.

"I thought I was stronger than that, and it can make you feel weak," she concluded. "To be able to know that you're worth more than that and fight for yourself is a really difficult thing."

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