Comedian's story of abuse is inspiring other survivors

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Comedian Beth Stelling Opens Up About Being Raped and Abused by Ex-Boyfriend

Comedian Beth Stelling seems to be having a great year—she released a stand-up album and premiered a critically acclaimed Comedy Central special. But on Monday she posted a picture on Instagram of her extensively bruised legs. In the caption, she wrote that amid all of her recent successes, she'd also privately been dealing with an abusive relationship.

"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 in the caption. "It's embarrassing. I feel stupid. After being verbally, physically abused and raped, I dated him for two more months."

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 photo posted by Beth Stelling (@bethstelling) on

"I didn't want to hurt him, start a war, press charges, be interrogated or harassed by him or his friends and family," Stelling wrote on Instagram. "I wanted to move on and forget because I didn't understand." But Stelling said she came to the conclusion that "it's unhealthy to keep this inside," so she started incorporating the abuse into her standup routine. "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," she said. "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."

In fact, Stelling says others have come forward to share their own accounts of abuse. "An ex-girlfriend of this ex-boyfriend came to me and shared that she experienced the same fate," she said. "Then there was another and another (men and women) who shared other injustices at his hand..."

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Comedian's story of abuse is inspiring other survivors
SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 01: Beth Stelling performs on day three of the Bumbershoot Music and Arts Festival September 1, 2014 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Timothy Hiatt/Getty Images)
WESTWOOD, CA - NOVEMBER 02: Actress Beth Stelling attends the premiere of 'This Isn't Funny' at Crest Theatre on November 2, 2015 in Westwood, California. (Photo by Paul Archuleta/FilmMagic)
WESTWOOD, CA - NOVEMBER 02: Actress Beth Stelling attends the premiere of Candy Factory Films' 'This Isn't Funny' at Crest Theatre on November 2, 2015 in Westwood, California. (Photo by Matthew Simmons/Getty Images)
VENTURA, CA - JUNE 21: Comedian Beth Stelling performs onstage at Seaside Park on June 21, 2015 in Ventura, California. (Photo by Scott Dudelson/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 21: Comedian Beth Stelling performs onstage at Hey Buddy. A Free Comedy Show on September 21, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Scott Dudelson/FilmMagic)
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 21: Comedian Beth Stelling performs onstage at Hey Buddy. A Free Comedy Show on September 21, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Scott Dudelson/FilmMagic)
AUSTIN, TX - MARCH 15: Comedian Beth Stelling performs onstage at TuneIn showcase during the 2012 SXSW Music, Film + Interactive Festival at Esther's Follies on March 15, 2012 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Cassie Wright/WireImage)
AUSTIN, TX - MARCH 15: Comedian Beth Stelling performs onstage at TuneIn showcase during the 2012 SXSW Music, Film + Interactive Festival at Esther's Follies on March 15, 2012 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Cassie Wright/WireImage)
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This is just the latest case of a public figure taking to social media with an allegation of abuse: Last month, adult performer Stoya used Twitter to accuse ex-boyfriend and porn star James Deen of rape. It isn't just famous people: This summer, two young women used Facebook to share allegations of assault and saw their stories go viral. Sometimes, these claims are made against men who are being investigated or who have already been charged or convicted in connection to alleged crimes—as in the high-profile case of Savannah Dietrich, a 17-year-old girl who in 2012 defied a court order and posted the names of her sexual assailants to Twitter. But often enough, as with Stelling, they are made without naming the alleged abuser and as an alternative to the criminal justice system, which is hardly known for treating accusers kindly.

As much as social media can be vapid, it can also be a powerful tool for women to share stories of abuse on their own terms—and to expose the lie of the perfect versions of our lives that we present online. "I've had an amazing year and you've seen the highlights here," wrote Stelling in the Instagram caption, "so these photos are an uncommon thing to share but not an uncommon issue."

The post Comedian's Story Of Abuse Is Inspiring Other Survivors appeared first on Vocativ.

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