Stelling says she's incorporating the abuse into the story she tells during her stand-up routine

By Lydia Price
Updated December 28, 2015 04:50 PM
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Like a lot of professional funny people, Beth Stelling is used to getting candid about her life offstage. Recently, the Los Angeles based-comedian started working one very personal, serious experience into her routine.

Stelling took to Instagram on Monday to open up about a violent relationship with an ex boyfriend, sharing photos of her bruised arms and legs and explaining why she has decided to include discussions of the abuse in her stand-up.

“Same girl in all of these photos (me). I’ve had an amazing year, and you’ve seen the highlights here, so these photos are an uncommon thing to share but not an uncommon issue,” Stelling captions a collage of photos of her bruises and her onstage smile.

The comic, who released her album Simply the Beth this fall and has a Comedy Central special, was hesitant to openly talk about the abuse, especially within her professional world.

“There are many reasons not to make an abusive relationship public, mostly fear. Scared of what people will think, scared it makes me look weak or unprofessional,” she writes.

“When friends or comics ask why we broke up, it’s not easy or comfortable to reply; it doesn’t seem like the appropriate thing to say at a stand-up show, a party or a wedding. It’s embarrassing. I feel stupid. After being verbally, physically abused and raped, I dated him for two more months. It’s not simple.”

Ultimately, Stelling couldn’t exclude such a significant piece of her story from her onstage persona, even if it meant risking ridicule from the close-knit comedy community.

“After I broke up with him, he said, ‘You’re very open and honest in your stand-up, and I just ask that you consider me when you talk about your ex because everyone knows who you’re talking about.’ And I abided. I wrote vague jokes because we both live in L.A., and I didn’t want to hurt him, start a war, press charges, be interrogated or harassed by him or his friends and family. I wanted to move on and forget because I didn’t understand,” Stelling shares.

“I don’t want revenge or to hurt him now, but it’s unhealthy to keep this inside because my stand-up is pulled directly from my life. It’s how I make my living. My personal is my professional. That is how I’ve always been; I make dark, funny. So now I’m allowing this to be part of my story.”

Stelling says she’s already started joking about the relationship and asked her followers to “have the courage to listen and accept.”

So far, the funny lady has been getting a positive response to her openness at the mic.

“Already since talking about this onstage, many women have come to me after shows asking me to keep doing it,” she says on Instagram. “Men have shown their solidarity.”