Comedian Beth Stelling — whose Comedy Central special, Half Hour, debuted this past October — revealed her past with an abusive ex-boyfriend in an Instagram post that went up Monday and included photos of her bruised legs and wrist.
“When I broke up with my ex this summer, it wasn’t because I didn’t love him,” Stelling wrote in the photo’s caption. “It was because of this … It’s embarassing. I feel stupid. After being verbally, physically abused and raped, I dated him for two more months. It’s not simple.”
Stelling went on to recount a conversation she and her ex-boyfriend had where he asked her not to discuss their relationship in her stand-up routines. At first, Stelling honored his request. “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 said.
“I don’t want revenge or to hurt him now,” Stelling continued, “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.”
Stelling says she’s started including jokes about the relationship in her standup and asks audience members to “have the courage to listen and accept it because I’m trying.” See her series of Instagram posts below.
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..
And just to be clear, there are wonderful men in this world. @sammorril was a friend to me getting out of my last relationship, he listened, made me laugh, comforted me. He encouraged me as I toured the world, respected me and my work, and he stuck by me when I made it really difficult to want to. He is a good partner and I love the man. photo by our friend @philprovencio