Evan Rachel Wood long avoided naming the ex-partner she said abused her. But this week, in tandem with accusations from four other women, Wood finally admitted that she had been referring to Marilyn Manson. “I am done living in fear of retaliation, slander, or blackmail,” she wrote on Instagram.
Marilyn Manson Allegations Suggest His Art Was a Cover for Abuse
Two years ago, Wood offered stark details of a prior relationship while speaking at a House Judiciary subcommittee. Though she did not name him at the time, it was very public knowledge that Wood and Manson dated between 2006 and 2010, having met when she was 18 and he was 36.
Speaking out in favor of the Sexual Assault Survivors’ Bill of Rights, Wood detailed:
Toxic mental, physical, and sexual abuse, which started slow, but escalated over time, including threats against my life, severe gaslighting and brainwashing, waking up to the man that claimed to love me raping what he believed to be my unconscious body, and—the worst part—sick rituals of binding me up by my hands and feet to be mentally and physically tortured until my abuser felt I had 'proven my love for them.'
That Manson is the ex-partner that Wood was referring to is not particularly surprising for anyone who has been paying attention these last few years. Much has been made of the fact that Manson openly admitted to Spin in 2009 that he had, “fantasies every day about smashing her skull in with a sledgehammer,” and that he had once called her 158 times in one day, while cutting himself each time.
Last year, British rock magazine Metal Hammer attempted to broach the subject of Wood with Manson during a phone interview, and the singer promptly hung up. Manson's PR rep later contacted the magazine to say: “Personal testimony is just that, and we think it’s inappropriate to comment on that.” The rep also pointed to Manson's prior relationships, and current friendships, with ex-wife Dita Von Teese and #MeToo activist Rose McGowan, as proof that Manson wasn’t abusive. (McGowan has since tweeted words of support for Wood.)
Manson’s publicist added: “The comments in Spin where Manson had a fantasy of using a sledgehammer on Evan and he cut himself 158 times was obviously a theatrical rock star interview promoting a new record, and not a factual account.”
That statement doubled down on ideas around Manson that first found popularity after his appearance in Michael Moore's Bowling For Columbine documentary. In the 2002 film, Manson came across as an articulate, intelligent and sensitive misfit who had been scapegoated. His frightening image, the film suggested, was just that—an image that doubled as an outlet. For both himself and his fans.
The allegations that emerged this week, however, suggest that Manson’s darkest traits have long wandered off the stage and into his real life—and not just the one he shared with Wood. The stories each of Manson’s new accusers told this week parallel each other in stark and remarkable ways.
An artist named Gabriella—known professionally as Sourgirrrl—says that she, like Wood, was much younger than Manson when they first became involved. (Gabriella was 22, he was 46.) Like Wood, she says that he tied her up, raped her and sexually abused her while she slept. Like Wood, she says Manson interpreted her suffering as evidence of her love for him.
Gabriella’s claim that Manson imprisoned her in a room echoes the story also shared by model Sarah McNeilly. In her own Instagram post, McNeilly detailed manipulative, abusive and threatening behavior she said she survived, after a period of “love-bombing” by Manson.
“I was emotionally abused, terrorized and scarred,” she wrote. “I was locked in rooms when I was ‘bad,’ sometimes forced to listen to him entertaining other women. Kept away from certain friends or, if I didn’t, he would threaten to come after them. I was told stories of others who tried to tell their story and their pets ended up dead.”
Another model, Ashley Lindsay Morgan, says her relationship with Manson began as a professional endeavor, but quickly descended into him exercising extreme forms of control over her, including physical abuse like cutting and burning. She says he also denied her food, sleep and access to the outside world.
Morgan says she has decided to come forward now because she “[knows] he is still doing this to a rotating door of young girls, and causing irreparable damage.”
“I am coming forward so he will finally stop,” she wrote.
Photographer Ashley Walters also came forward on Instagram, to talk about how she was treated by Manson while working as his assistant. “I felt like I was his property,” she wrote, “because [he] would offer me up for sexual encounters to please potential collaborators or friends, and bragged that he could do so.”
The women’s testimonies come two years after actress Charlyne Yi took to Twitter to allege harassment by Manson during a visit he made to the set of her TV show, House, in 2011.
“He came on set to visit because he was a huge fan of the show,” she wrote, “[and] he harassed just about every woman.” Yi, who is of Spanish Filipino, Korean and Native American descent, said Manson also called her “a China man.”
Yi deleted her tweet after being harassed by Manson fans, and Walters deleted her Instagram account since making the post about working with him.
Though Manson’s entire career has been constructed around goth theatrics and his own innate desire to shock, the impression given in his interviews and by the music press at large was, for the most part, that it was one big, self-conscious experiment—a schtick to test America's boundaries. And maybe that was true at the beginning.
If true now, the allegations about Manson that emerged this week suggest that the lines that used to separate his art from reality have long since evaporated. At this point, it's becoming hard to see him as anything but a real-life monster.
Update: On Feb. 1, Manson issued a statement on Instagram in which he called the allegations, "horrible distortions of reality," and said that, "My intimate relationships have always been entirely consensual with like-minded partners." He was dropped by Loma Vista Recordings the same day. In the weeks since, stylist Love Bailey, model Jenna Jameson and actress Esmé Bianco have all shared allegations of violent and abusive behavior towards them by Manson.