Selena Gomez says she experienced emotional abuse in her past relationship with fellow musician Justin Bieber.
“I’ve found the strength in it. It’s dangerous to stay in a victim mentality,” Gomez said of her on-again/off-again relationship with Bieber, in an interview with NPR on Sunday. “And I’m not being disrespectful. I do feel I was a victim to certain abuse.”
When asked whether this abuse could be categorized as “emotional abuse,” Gomez answered in the affirmative.
“Yes, and I think that it’s something that … I had to find a way to understand it as an adult,” Gomez said. “As much as I definitely don’t want to spend the rest of my life talking about this, I am really proud that I can say I feel the strongest I’ve ever felt and I’ve found a way to just walk through it with as much grace as possible.”
Gomez first started dating Bieber in 2011 when she was 18 and he was 16. The two musicians last dated in 2018. It is not clear when in the relationship she experienced the alleged emotional abuse.
The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence defines emotional or psychological abuse as a pattern of abuse that can include manipulation, verbal abuse, rejection, bullying and intimidation, though Gomez did not go into detail about the form of emotional abuse she allegedly suffered. It often includes gaslighting, a form of manipulation whereby a person makes their partner question their ability to trust themselves and their perception of reality, the NCADV said. Nearly half of U.S. women have experienced psychological abuse, according to the center.This form of abuse is more subtle than physical or sexual violence, though it can be accompanied by other forms of abuse, and can happen to anyone regardless of gender, age, sexual orientation, race or economic background.
NBC News has reached out to Bieber’s and Gomez’s representatives for comment. Though he has not released a statement regarding Gomez’s interview, Bieber revealed in an Instagram post in September that he “started doing heavy drugs at 19 and abused all my relationships” as he grappled with rising fame.
“I became resentful, disrespectful to women and angry,” he wrote, adding that it’s taken him years to address these “relationship habits.”