Britney Spears made a series of explosive revelations about life under her controversial conservatorship today, as she finally addressed a court to tell her story in her own words.
Spears spoke for around 20 minutes, and didn't hold back, calling the conservatorship arrangement – which has seen her father Jamie Spears and others control her life and finances since shortly after her 2007 breakdown – "abusive".
Read in full (as per Variety), it paints an alarming picture of Spears' deteriorating quality of life in recent years, as she claims she was drugged, forced to perform and denied many basic rights.
Here are the main takeaways from Spears' address to the court:
She was 'forced' to tour
Britney's final concert tour to date took place in 2018 – 31 dates across Europe and North America, a rare international outing after her successful years-long Vegas residency.
She now has said she begged not to do the tour.
"I was forced to. My management said if I don't do this tour, I will have to find an attorney," she told the court. "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," she told the court.
Why her last Vegas residency was really cancelled
Britney abruptly cancelled her planned 'Domination' Las Vegas residency in January 2019, explaining that it was due to her father's health problems. Now, she has detailed what was really going on behind the scenes for the first time.
She said she again begged for a break after her 2018 international tour, but was instead pushed straight into rehearsals for the residency. Eventually, the stress became too much – and she was surprised to find those in charge were receptive to her pleas to cancel the new show. "It was like lifting literally 200 pounds off of me when they said I don't have to do the show anymore, because it was really really hard on me and it was too much. I couldn't take it anymore."
But Spears said the cancellation made her conservators exert even more control over her life.
Drugged and ordered to rehab
The lucrative residency cancelled, Spears said she was put on the "very, very strong" psychiatric medication lithium by her therapist, which made her feel "drunk".
"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," she said. From there, she said she was forced to submit to daily four-hour psychiatric evaluations. She said that one day, her father called to tell her she'd failed her testing and would be sent to a rehab program, costing her $60,000.
"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."
She's forbidden from having children
Spears revealed that she wants to marry boyfriend Sam Asghari and have another child – but both actions have been blocked by the conservatorship.
"I have an IUD in my body right now that won't let me have a baby and my conservators won't let me go to the doctor to take it out," she said.
Britney is already mother to Sean Preston, 15, and 14-year-old Jayden James with ex-husband Kevin Federline, who she split from in 2006.
She has been with her current partner Sam Asghari since 2016.
Sad truth behind her sunny Instagram persona
Through all this, Britney's one connection to fans and the outside world has been through her Instagram account. It's been the source of much conjecture, as Britney posts eccentric, usually upbeat videos, dancing for the camera or chatting animatedly, telling fans she's doing great. She indicated in court that this has been her way of putting on a brave face about her situation.
"I've lied and told the whole world, 'I'm OK. And I'm happy.' It's a lie. I thought I just maybe [have] said that enough. Because I've been in denial. I've been in shock. I am traumatised. You know, fake it til you make it. But now I'm telling you the truth. OK? I'm not happy. I can't sleep. I'm so angry. It's insane. And I'm depressed. I cry every day."
Spears said in the past she was nervous about how she'd be received if she shared her true feelings. She said she feared "people would make fun of me or laugh at me and say, 'She's lying, she's got everything, she's Britney Spears'."
She wants the conservatorship to end – now
Spears' father and others in charge of her finances have previously insisted the conservatorship arrangement is to help Britney, and she could change the arrangement if she wanted to.
She definitely wants to.
"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 and my dream for all of this to end without being tested.
"Basically, this conservatorship is doing me WAY more harm than good," she told the court. "I deserve to have a life … I deserve to have the same rights as anybody does by having a child, a family, all of those things."
What she wants next
Even in a transcript, Britney's anger was evident as she said she wants those who've enabled her conservatorship – including members of her family – to pay. She said those responsible for keeping her conservatorship going should be put in jail.
"I would honestly like to sue my family. 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 said.
She appeared to change her mind mid-speech about whether or not she wants to do a tell-all interview, but said she wanted some way to publicly "get it off my heart, the anger and all of that, it's not fair".
While fans and supporters are on her side, it appears this time, those in power may also be listening.
TMZ reported that, after Britney spoke, the judge commended her for her bravery and said she, "would entertain any request to end the conservatorship and start the process of holding hearings".