On Monday, comedian Beth Stelling uploaded a photo that was different from her usual smiling highlights with friends and family.
This photo showed healing bruises scattered across her legs and arm, and her story about the violence she experienced over the course of an old relationship.
Drawing attention to something that is "not an uncommon issue," Stelling writes about the difficulties she faces when she initially broke up with her ex-boyfriend in the summer, and afterwards. She details the shame and internal conflicts that came with the decision and what she is feeling now.
"After being verbally, physically abused and raped, I dated him for two more months. It’s not simple," she writes.
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..
Her original post broke off because she exceeded the word count, so Stelling continued in another post.
According to the United Nations, one in three women worldwide will experience physical or sexual violence, and it is usually inflicted by an intimate partner.
And it's not uncommon for women in abusive relationships to stay.
"It's not only my story"
Stelling has been on the rise this past year having taped a Comedy Central half-hour special and released a stand-up album, Simply the Beth. Her ex is someone who is also involved in comedy as well, which is a reason Stelling says she felt pressure to remain silent about the abuse "because everyone knows who you're talking about."
But since posting the images, Stelling has received praise and support on Twitter from other entertainers including Patton Oswalt and Questlove.
Mine, too. Please read this. @BethStelling rules at comedy, humanity & courage.
Also GODDAMIT. https://t.co/uosgrPZ9xD— Patton Oswalt (@pattonoswalt) December 28, 2015
Much love to sweet warrior princess @BethStelling— Ronald Funches (@RonFunches) December 29, 2015
Respect to @bethstelling
Same girl in all of these photos (me). I've had an amazing year and… https://t.co/ByPj74xJY2— Questlove Gomez (@questlove) December 28, 2015
If @BethStelling have one girl the courage to stand up for herself then the post was worth it.— Iliza Shlesinger (@iliza) December 28, 2015
At the end of her post, she writes that she has resolved to introduce this part of her life into her stand up routines.
" ... Now I'm allowing this to be part of my story," she writes, "It's not my only story, so please don't let it be."
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