Britney Spears directly addressed an open court Wednesday (June 23) for the first time in 13 years since she entered into a conservatorship that controlled her life and career.
In her 20-minute testimony, the 39-year-old singer gave a harrowing account to Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Brenda Penny, arguing how her family and management has been taking advantage of her for years and exploiting her situation for their own financial gain. The pop star even likened her “abusive” experience to being sex trafficked, and made it crystal clear that she wishes to put an end to her conservatorship.
“I am not here to be anyone’s slave,” she stated.
Spears — whose court appearance was remote due to COVID-19 — knew fans would be supporting her after she subtly addressed the #FreeBritney movement, which received an enormous amount of support following the release of The New York Times documentary Framing Britney Spears in February — in a Sept. 3 court filing. In that document, she adamantly argued for transparency in her case after filing an unprecedented objection to a motion from her father to seal a filing in the case. “The world is watching,” read her filing.
And indeed, the world was watching: More than 1 million tweets about Spears were shared on Twitter in 24 hours, the platform’s reps shared after her Wednesday hearing.
Here are the biggest revelations from Spears’ tell-all testimony, in her own words:
She Was Forced to Tour in 2018 and Do Another Las Vegas Residency Immediately After
“I was on tour in 2018. I was forced to — my management said if I don’t do this tour, I will have to find an attorney. My own management could sue me if I didn’t follow through with the tour. He handed me a sheet of paper as I got off the stage in Vegas and said I had to sign it. It was very threatening and scary. And with the conservatorship, I couldn’t even get my own attorney. So out of fear, I went ahead and I did the work.
When I came off that tour, a new show in Las Vegas was supposed to take place. I started rehearsing early, but it was hard because I’d been doing Vegas for four years and I needed a break in between. But no, I was told this is the timeline and this is how it’s going to go. I rehearsed four days a week. Half of the time in the studio and a half of the other time in a Westlake studio. I was basically directing most of the show. I actually did most of the choreography, meaning I taught my dancers my new choreography myself, I take everything I do very seriously. There’s tons of video with me at rehearsals. I wasn’t good — I was great. I led a room of 16 new dancers in rehearsals.”
Her Team Told Her Therapist She Wasn’t Taking Her Medication or Cooperating at Rehearsals
“I was told by my at-the-time therapist, Dr. Benson — who died [in 2019] — that my manager called him and then that moment and told him I wasn’t cooperating or following the guidelines in rehearsals. And he also said I wasn’t taking my medication, which is so dumb, because I’ve had the same lady every morning for the past eight years give me my same medication.”
“After I said no to Vegas, my therapist sat me down in a room and said he had a million phone calls about how I was not cooperating in rehearsals, and I haven’t been taking my medication. All this was false — he immediately, the next day, put me on lithium out of nowhere. He took me off my normal meds I’ve been on for five years. And lithium is a very, very strong and completely different medication compared to what I was used to. You can go mentally impaired if you take too much if you stay on it longer than five months. But he put me on that and I felt drunk. I couldn’t even have a conversation with my mom or dad really about anything. I told him I was scared and I my doctor had me on six different nurses with this new medication come to my home, stay with me to monitor me on this new medication, which I never wanted to be on to begin with. There were six different nurses in my home and they wouldn’t let me get in my car to go anywhere for a month.”
She Compared Her Situation to Being Sex Trafficked
“Over the two-week holiday, a lady came into my home for four hours a day, sat me down and did a psych test on me. It took forever. But I was I was told I had to, then after that I got off. When I was told I had to, then after I got a phone call from my dad, basically saying I’d failed the test or whatever, whatever. ‘I’m sorry, Britney, you have to listen to your doctors. They’re planning to send you to a small home in Beverly Hills to do a small rehab program that we’re going to make up for you. You’re going to pay $60,000 a month for this.’ I cried on the phone for an hour and he loved every minute of it.
The control he had over someone as powerful as me, as he loved the control to hurt his own daughter 100,000%. He loved it. I packed my bags and went to that place. I worked seven days a week, no days off, which in California, the only similar thing to this is called sex trafficking. Making anyone work against their will, taking all their possessions away — credit card, cash, phone passport — and placing them in a home where they work with the people who live with them. They all lived in the house with me, the nurses, the 24-7 security. There was one chef that came there and cooked for me daily on them during the weekdays. They watched me change every day — morning, noon and night. I had no privacy door for my room, I gave eight gallons of blood a week. If I didn’t do any of my meetings and work from eight to six at night — which is 10 hours a day, seven days a week, no days off — I wouldn’t be able to see my kids or my boyfriend.”
She Thinks Her Dad and Her Team Should Be in Jail
“My dad and anyone involved in the conservatorship and my management who played two roles and punishing me when I said, ‘No.’ Ma’am, they should be in jail. Their cool tactics, working for Miley Cyrus as she smokes joints on stage at the VMAs, nothing has ever been done to this generation for doing wrong things, but my precious body has worked for my dad for the past f—ing 13 years, trying to be so good and pretty. So perfect because he works me so hard when I do everything I’m told.
And the state of California, my father, ignorant father to take his own daughter, who only has a role with me if I work with him, they get back the whole course and allow him to do that to me? That’s given these people I’ve worked for way too much control.
They also threaten me instead if I don’t go, then I have to go to court, and it will be more embarrassing for me if the judge publicly makes scope at the evidence we pass. You have to go. I was advised for my image I need to go ahead and just go and get it over with. They said that to me I don’t, I don’t even drink alcohol. I should drink alcohol, considering what they put my heart through.”
She Felt Abused by Her Therapist and Had Trauma From the Paparazzi
“I’m scared of people. I don’t trust people with what I’ve been through. And the clever setup of being in one of the most exposed places in Westlake, which, yesterday, paparazzi showed me coming out of the place literally crying. It’s embarrassing, and it’s demoralizing. I deserve privacy when I go and have therapy, either at my home, like I’ve done for eight years. Or when Dr. Benson — the man that died — I went to a place similar to what I went to in Westlake, which was very exposed and really bad. OK, so where was I? It was like, it’s I was identical to Dr. Benson, who illegally, yes 100% abused me by the treatment he gave me, to be totally honest with you. I was so lucky.
To be totally honest with you, when [Dr. Benson] passed away, I got on my knees and thanked God. … I have trapped phobias in small rooms because of the trauma. And for four months in that place, it’s not OK for them to send me — sorry, I’m going too fast — to that small room like that twice a week with another new therapist that I pay that I never even approved. I don’t want to do that. And I haven’t done anything to deserve this treatment.”
She Wants to Sue Her Family
“I would honestly like to sue my family, to be totally honest with you. I also would like to be able to share my story with the world, and what they did to me, instead of it being a hush-hush secret to benefit all of them. I want to be able to be heard on what they did to me by making me keep this in for so long, is not good for my heart. I’ve been so angry and I cry every day, it concerns me, I’m told I’m not allowed to expose the people who did this to me.”
She Isn’t Allowed to Get Married, Have More Children or Remove Her IUD
“I want to be able to get married and have a baby. I was told right now in the conservatorship, I’m not able to get married or have a baby, I have a IUD inside of myself right now so I don’t get pregnant. I wanted to take the IUD out so I could start trying to have another baby. But this so-called team won’t let me go to the doctor to take it out because they don’t want me to have children any more children. So basically, this conservatorship is doing me way more harm than good.”