Comedian Beth Stelling opens up about surviving rape and abuse | Bleader

Comedian Beth Stelling opens up about surviving rape and abuse

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Beth Stelling - MEGHAN THOMPSON
  • Meghan Thompson
  • Beth Stelling

Stand-up comedian Beth Stelling, who got her start in Chicago, revealed details of a past abusive relationship on Instagram earlier today. In a post that included photos of her bruised arms and legs, she wrote that an ex-boyfriend had raped her, and that he had physically and verbally abused her.

"There are many reasons not to make an abusive relationship public, mostly fear," she wrote of her relative silence on the matter. "Scared of what people will think, scared it makes me look weak or unprofessional."

The former boyfriend, who isn't named on Instagram, had the gall to ask Stelling for discretion if she discussed their relationship in her comedy. "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 LA 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."

Now Stelling, who returned to Chicago in September to record her second comedy album, is opening up in her stand-up about the abuse at the hand of her ex. "Already since talking about this onstage, many women have come to me after shows asking me to keep doing it," she wrote. "Men have shown their solidarity. An ex-girlfriend of this ex-boyfriend came to me and shared that she experienced the same fate."


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

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