In November 2021, at the age of 39, Britney Spears was released. It was thanks to the #FreeBritney movement, initiated by her fans and supported by the media, which culminated in the Californian judge Brenda Penny ending the singer’s guardianship after more than 13 years in which the artist’s father controlled her personal life and professional. The Supreme Court of California, in Los Angeles, gave Spears control over her day to day life, her career and her money. Since then, Britney Spears has been Britney Spears again: she celebrated the end of her guardianship by drinking her first glass of champagne in 13 years, six months later she married her partner, the Iranian Sam Asghari, and recently she has returned to music by Elton John with a song called Hold Me Closer.
And after recovering her life, Britney Spears is also gradually recovering her narrative and everything that, during these 13 years, has been told about her while she remained, out of obligation, silent. The most revealing story so far has been uploaded (and later deleted) by the singer herself on YouTube; Furthermore, she has deleted her hitherto very active Instagram profile. It is a 22-minute confessional audio where the singer talks at length about the abuse she has suffered in the last 15 years, as well as her feelings towards her family members. The singer has wanted to express herself without cameras, only through her voice, and acknowledging having refused interviews on television to be able to tell her version of the story well without intermediaries: “I don’t get anything by sharing all this,” began by explaining Spears, who now has 40 years. “I have offers to do interviews with Oprah [Winfrey] and a lot of people for lots and lots of money, but it’s crazy. I don’t want any of that. For me, it goes beyond a formal interview.”
Britney Spears’ story begins with an apology. It is still difficult for her to talk about what happened and, while she tells her story, she herself admits not being able to understand how everything that happened to her could happen to her, and how her relatives could allow it: “Really, I have not shared this openly because I have always afraid of the trial. And I’ve also felt a lot of shame.” From there, the story is a nightmare.
How Britney Spears Guardianship Started
After mentioning that she now feels safer and more confident to speak, Spears explains the origins of her guardianship, which began after the singer spoke with a British accent to the doctor who prescribed her medication; always according to the singer’s version: “she was 25 years old when she started, she was extremely young. And I remember that many of my friends wrote to me, called me and wanted to see me”, confesses Spears, “to this day I don’t really know what I did, but my father’s punishment prevented me from seeing anyone, and you have to imagine that none of that made sense to me.”
Three days after the episode with her doctor, Britney Spears was hospitalized in a mental institution: “I remember my mother was sitting on the sofa and she said to me: ‘Some people are coming here to talk to you today.’ I never really understood what she meant.” The singer confesses that, four hours later, with paparazzi outside her house taking photos, she was put on a stretcher and taken in an ambulance to a hospital: “Now I know that everything was premeditated,” she explains, “there were no drugs in my system, no alcohol, nothing. It was all pure abuse.” After leaving the hospital, her father, Jamie Spears, took over her finances and her life through a conservatorship in which he controlled every aspect of her existence.
a sheltered life
After spending two weeks in the hospital and leaving, in her own words, “completely traumatized,” Spears was forced to go back to work again. Her life was no longer in her hands, but in her father’s. Her first project, in 2008, was a cameo appearance in the television series How I Met Your Mother, and immediately after that, she began work on what would become her new album that same year, Circus. From there, Britney Spears’s nightmare really begins: “All I remember is that I had to do what I was told. They told me that she was fat every day, that she had to go to the gym. I never felt so demoralized. They made me feel like I was nothing. And I accepted it because I was afraid.”
He agreed to do four tours and release four albums. Later, she had her own residence in Las Vegas for four and a half years: “I was 30 years old and lived by my father’s rules,” the singer confesses, “in Las Vegas, the dancers played, drank and had fun. . I couldn’t do any of that.” Britney Spears confesses that at that time she felt completely dehumanized: “I was like a robot. Everything was the same to me. I couldn’t go places I wanted to go, I had no money, and everything was demoralizing. It was like having a group conspiring around me, saying I was a superstar, but treating me like I was nobody.”
The singer confesses that she had a moment of catharsis when she recorded what is still her last studio album, Glory, in 2016: during the recording and production process she managed to gain some self-confidence and analyze what was happening around: “I think with confidence comes clarity, which makes you think better and that’s the last thing they wanted me to do. Because then who would be in control then?” In those moments, the pop star felt that, while she was looking for a way out, she could only pretend that everything was fine: “I had to play the part that everything was fine. And I had to play it because she knew they could hurt me. So I was sitting there with my friends drinking alcohol, having a good time and I didn’t even have my own money. I felt like a nun.”
Britney is admitted to an institution
Britney Spears acknowledges that this deception could not last forever. This extra dose of confidence caused that, at one point, while she was preparing a new show, she refused to perform a movement within a choreography. For years, Britney had never said ‘no’: “The next day they told me they had to send me to a center. And I was supposed to say on Instagram that the reason was because my father is sick and I need treatment.” Her father called her on the phone and she asked him, crying, why she was doing this to him. Her father responded with a threat: “You don’t have to go, but if you don’t go, we are going to go to court, and there will be a big trial and you will lose it. I have a lot more people on my side than you do. So don’t even think about not going.”
Spears agreed to go to a mental hospital, feeling that her heart had “frozen” and not understanding what was really going on. The most painful detail for the singer was discovering that, while she was hospitalized, her family was at her house on her beach: “They literally killed me,” explains Spears. “He was performing for thousands of people at night in Vegas, the thrill of being an artist, the laughs, the respect… He was a machine. I was a fucking machine, not even human. It was crazy”.
That episode was the beginning of the end of Britney Spears’s nightmare: as she recognized in her recording, several voices began to rise up in favor of the artist. Various documentaries, legal paperwork leaked to the press, statements from friends and dancers, and her strange Instagram account, in which the artist seems to want to ask for help without asking directly (because she can’t), make up the rest of her. After months of fighting in the courts and years of activism from her supporters, Britney was released.
During the recording, Spears speaks on numerous occasions about the most difficult part of her entire story: the abandonment of her own family, including her mother, Lynne, who confessed to “ignoring” her daughter’s situation and who could have fought to get her a good lawyer. “How the hell could they do something like that and get away with it? Where was God? Does God exist?”, the singer wonders at one point in the recording.
“I share this because I want people to know that I am a human being. I feel victimized after these experiences and how can I repair this if I don’t talk about it?”, ends by explaining Britney Spears, who has been without a voice for so long that 22 minutes are too short.