Marilyn Manson's Ex Ashley Morgan Smithline 'Thought He Was Going to Kill' Her During Abusive Relationship
In one of PEOPLE's cover stories this week, Smithline details the horrific abuse she says she faced at the hands of the metal rocker. "I survived a monster," she says, while Manson denies all
Editor's Note: This story contains graphic details of sexual violence and physical abuse.
Ashley Morgan Smithline is ready to tell her truth.
In one of PEOPLE's cover stories this week, Smithline — one of 15 women, including actresses Evan Rachel Wood and Esmé Bianco, who have accused Marilyn Manson of sexual, psychological and physical abuse — reveals the extent of the torture she says she survived at the hands of the metal rocker.
"I survived a monster," the 36-year-old tells PEOPLE in her first interview since naming Manson as her abuser in February in an Instagram statement.
Over the course of two years, Smithline says that along with being sexually assaulted by the rock star countless times, Manson, 52, bit her, whipped her, cut her with a swastika-emblazoned knife and shoved his fist in her mouth during sex. She says he also forced her to do a blood pact and that she was locked into what he called "the bad girls' room," a glass, soundproof room, whenever she "pissed him off."
After numerous women accused him of abuse, Manson responded in February that his "intimate relationships have always been entirely consensual with like-minded partners," calling the women's stories "horrible distortions of reality."
In response to Smithline's allegations, a spokesperson for Manson — who is currently being investigated for domestic violence by the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department — says they "strongly deny her claims."
"There are so many falsehoods within her claims that we wouldn't know where to begin to answer them," the statement reads. "This relationship, to the limited extent it was a relationship, didn't last one week." (Smithline provided PEOPLE with emails and messages she says were from Manson that span more than two years.)
Listen below to the episode of our daily podcast PEOPLE Every Day for more on PEOPLE's cover story with Ashley Morgan Smithline.
Smithline and Bianco's attorney Jay Ellwanger also issued a statement to PEOPLE in support of his client.
"I am proud to represent Ms. Smithline as she comes forward to share her truth about Brian Warner," Ellwanger said in a statement to PEOPLE. "We are exploring all options to hold him accountable for his actions and to make sure that this behavior ends once and for all."
Smithline and Manson connected during the summer of 2010 while she was modeling in Asia. Manson reached out to her about an acting role in a film. Excited about the potential gig, she and Manson began chatting as Smithline started to feel a deeper connection with the rocker.
It wasn't his macabre makeup or ghoulish persona that drew her in, she says. Instead, "he lured me in with this endless intelligence."
"He seemed brilliant and I still think he is," she says. "We talked about Nabokov and Tolstoy and foreign films and not in a pretentious 'first year of film school' way. In a way of really appreciating art and literature."
For more on Ashley Morgan Smithline, the abuse she says she faced at the hands of Marilyn Manson and why other survivors have decided to speak out, pick up the new issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands everywhere Friday.
According to Smithline, Manson started sending her dozens of text messages at all hours of the day and night as things started to get "slowly more and more invasive." While she was abroad, Smithline — who is of Jewish descent — says the rocker asked her to find Nazi memorabilia like throwing stars, knives and whips to bring back to him in L.A..
"He kind of made it like this is just like a joke between us," she says. "I think at that point, I was already coerced enough that I felt he would not like me if I didn't bring those things. If I'd known the weapons would be used on me, I think it would have felt a lot stranger."
Smithline first flew into Los Angeles to meet with the rocker in November 2010. He got her a room at the Roosevelt Hotel, before she moved into his West Hollywood apartment — a hollowed-out ballet studio that she described as a freezing "black refrigerator" — days later.
The abuse started while filming. The first time he hurt her, she says he whipped her bare back as she lay face down and naked on his bed. With the windows blacked out, Manson would lie to her about the time of day and force her to continue working into the early hours of the morning, she told PEOPLE.
Then, she says, the physical abuse became sexual. The first time she says he raped her, she woke up in the morning screaming, realizing her arms were tied. Manson had been penetrating her while she slept. "He kept telling me, 'You can't rape someone that you're in love with,'" she says.
With Smithline dwindling to less than 80 lbs. during their relationship, Manson would cut her protruding ribs and once carved his initials into her thigh. She still has the scar to this day. "I was brainwashed, and it makes me feel disgusting," she says about seeing the permanent mark.
And then, she says, there was the blood pact. Weeks into their relationship, "He cut me on my stomach and then drank my blood. Then, he had me drink his," she says. "The more I let him hurt me, the more I loved him and the more I was proving myself to him."
Over the course of two years, Smithline says she was sent to the "bad girls' room" — a glass box in his bedroom that some of the other women who accused Manson of abuse say they were put in as well — more than 100 times.
"If I had to pee while he was replaying one of his songs I'd heard 30,000 times, I'd have to be locked in the box," she says. "I was malnourished and cold."
Smithline would work as a model in Asia for months at a time and return to L.A. to be with Manson over the course of two years. Once, her nose was broken during a rape struggle shortly before she had to take a 17-hour flight to Japan for a modeling job. Another time, she says, he threw a knife from across the room, just barely missing her face.
RELATED VIDEO: Evan Rachel Wood Alleges Ex Marilyn Manson 'Horrifically Abused' and 'Manipulated' Her
"At one point I asked him, 'Do you want me to kill myself? Do you want me to just f---ing kill myself?' " she recalls. Manson, whom she says abused alcohol and cocaine and urged her to partake, scoffed and forced her to watch suicide scenes from movies, she says.
The first time she attempted to leave Manson was after he berated her for becoming drowsy at 3 a.m. during a video shoot about a year after they first started seeing each other. But, like many victims of domestic violence, Smithline felt unable to leave her abuser.
"I want to think that I never went back again," she says. "I wanted to go back on my terms and be in control, but it doesn't ever work like that." Even after she moved from his house, she continued to see Manson during his tour breaks until January 2013.
Smithline's healing process didn't fully commence until September 2020 when she met up with Wood, Bianco and several of Manson's other alleged victims.
"Being with the other girls, these feelings of guilt and shame have lessened," Smithline says.
Today, she continues to suffer from OCD, night terrors and PTSD. She hopes that speaking out will help stop the "most terrifying monster in the world."
For Smithline one thing's clear: "I'm not a victim," she says. "I'm a f—ing survivor. I want people to know who he is, and it's worth it if not one more woman gets hurt again."
If you are experiencing domestic violence, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233, or go to thehotline.org. All calls are toll-free and confidential. The hotline is available 24/7 in more than 170 languages.
If you or someone you know has been a victim of sexual abuse, text "STRENGTH" to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 to be connected to a certified crisis counselor.
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