Britney Spears on Wednesday night said she was "not here to be a slave" and claimed that she was forcibly kept on contraception as part of a controversial conservatorship arrangement.
Breaking her silence before a US judge, the 39-year-old pop star denounced her father Jamie Spears’ legal control of her life and finances as "abusive" and likened it to "sex trafficking".
In an extraordinary speech delivered remotely to the courtroom in Los Angeles, she said she had been forced to have an IUD inserted and forbidden to have children, as well as being made to take lithium, a powerful mood stabiliser drug with serious side effects, against her will.
She also accused her father of enjoying the control he had over her affairs and said his team had pushed her to do back-to-back musical tours when she did not want to. She asked the judge to end the conservatorship.
The claims represent her first public statements about the court-approved legal arrangement that was first put in place in 2008 when she suffered a mental health breakdown.
‘It’s abusive. I cry every day’
Spears told the court on Wednesday: "I truly believe this conservatorship is abusive… I’ve lied and told the whole world [that] I’m okay and I’m happy. It’s a lie.
"I thought just maybe [if] I said that enough, I might become happy, because I’ve been in denial. I’ve been in shock. I am traumatised. You know, ‘fake it till you make it’?
"But now I’m telling you the truth, okay? I’m not happy. I can’t sleep. I’m so angry it’s insane. And I’m depressed. I cry every day, and the reason I’m telling you this is because I don’t think the state of California can have all this written in the court documents from the time I showed up and do absolutely nothing….
"I’m not lying. I just want my life back and it’s been 13 years and it’s enough. It’s been a long time since I’ve owned my money, and it’s my wish in my dream for all of this to end without being tested."
Star claims managers took her phone and passport
Speaking about her managers’ control of her schedule and treatment, she said: "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…. they watched me change every day, morning, noon and night."
Singer Britney Spears and father Jamie, brother Bryan and mother Lynne
Credit: Chris Farina/Corbis via Getty Images
A lawyer for Jamie Spears made a short statement: "He is sorry to see his daughter suffering and in so much pain. Mr Spears loves his daughter and misses her very much."
The judge has yet not made any ruling. The trial continues.
Spears is engaged in a prolonged legal battle to remove Jamie Spears from the role of conservator.
The last time Spears spoke directly to the judge was in May 2019 but the court was closed to the public and her testimony was sealed. Details of her mental health have never been disclosed.
Her father has been responsible for handling her personal affairs for more than a decade, ranging from her medical care to who visits her secluded villa outside Los Angeles.
He is also a joint conservator of the singer’s finances, and oversees her estimated $60 million (£43.8 million) estate alongside private wealth management firm Bessemer Trust.
However, a new report from the New York Times claims that she has been attempting to fight against the restrictions as far back as 2014.
It is claimed that she told the court that she felt forced by the conservatorship into a stay at a mental health facility and to perform against her will.
Supporters of the #FreeBritney movement rally in support of musician Britney Spears in April
Credit: VALERIE MACON/AFP via Getty Images)
The newspaper said that a court investigator wrote in a 2016 report: "She articulated she feels the conservatorship has become an oppressive and controlling tool against her". The investigator added that Ms Spears said the system had "too much control".
A lawyer for Jamie Spears did not respond to a request for comment on the New York Times report.
His lawyers told reporters in February: "Jamie Spears has diligently and professionally carried out his duties as one of Britney’s conservators, and his love for his daughter and dedication to protecting her is clearly apparent to the court."
Demands to speak out
The singer rarely participates in the court proceedings, but her lawyer requested a hearing on an "expedited basis" this year, telling the judge that she wanted to speak out. It remains unclear what she intends to tell the court.
"I can only imagine that she’s going to address any number of those issues – why it’s working, why it’s not working, what changes she might like to see," said Scott Rahn, a Los Angeles attorney who specialises in trust and conservatorship issues.
"She may just be asking to be heard on lifting some restrictions," Mr Rahn said.
The #FreeBritney fan movement staged a rally on Wednesday near the courthouse to highlight its concerns over the conservatorship.
Ms Spears appeared to endorse the movement in a statement from her lawyers last year, which stated: "Britney welcomes and appreciates the informed support of her fans".
Ms Spears also indicated to her fans last week that she had no idea whether she will ever perform again. "I’m having fun right now, I’m in a transition in my life and I’m enjoying myself," she said on Instagram.