In explosive and detailed remarks, Britney Spears on Wednesday passionately condemned the legal arrangement that has given her father and others control over her personal finances, asking a judge to put a stop to it.
“I’ve told the world I’m happy and OK,” Spears told a Los Angeles courtroom. “I’m traumatized. I’m not happy. I can’t sleep.”
Since 2008, the pop star has been under a conservatorship, a formerly little-known legal tool to protect the finances of a person deemed mentally unfit to handle them. In recent years, public awareness and criticism of the arrangement have mounted, with fans ― often using the hashtag #FreeBritney ― asking why a successful professional woman should not be allowed to control the money she makes.
Spears spoke for about 20 minutes Wednesday, at times very rapidly, explaining that she was not previously aware she could ask the court to end her conservatorship.
This is the first time Spears, 39, has publicly spoken about the situation, despite press reports indicating she was unhappy with it. Addressing the court remotely by phone, she railed against her family and lawyers, painting a picture of herself as a woman imprisoned within her own life. The conservatorship, Spears said, is “abusive” and prevents her from living a “full life.”
“I’m so angry, it’s insane,” she said.
Spears asked Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Brenda Penny to end the conservatorship “without evaluation.”
“I haven’t done anything in the world to deserve this treatment,” she said.
At one point, Spears accused her conservators of refusing to take her to a doctor to remove a birth control device so she could get pregnant.
“I want to be able to get married and have a baby. I was told ... I can’t get married,” she said. Her boyfriend, Sam Asghari, had posted a photo of himself wearing a #FreeBritney T-shirt to social media earlier on Wednesday.
“This conservatorship is doing me way more harm than good,” Spears said. “I deserve to have a life.”
Spears also said she was prescribed lithium against her will, and that it was so strong she “felt drunk” and could not carry on a conversation “about anything.”
“They had me with six different nurses,” she said, according to CNN.
Spears’ estate has been placed in the hands of her father, Jamie Spears, who serves as joint conservator alongside her attorney, Jodi Montgomery. The singer wants the court to permanently remove her father from the conservatorship, leaving Montgomery at the helm. But on Wednesday, she said that even Montgomery was taking her role “too far” in overseeing Spears’ life and money.
The extent of the restrictions on Spears’ life was laid bare this week in The New York Times, which reported that her father has the final say even over minute details, such as whether she can paint her kitchen cabinets. Jamie Spears reportedly referred to his daughter as “a racehorse who has to be handled like one.”
A documentary produced by the Times, released earlier this year, also highlighted the pop star’s bizarre situation.
For Britney Spears, the road to the conservatorship began with a series of mental health crises in the mid-2000s. She was involuntarily hospitalized twice in January 2008, following a difficult custody dispute over her two children with ex-husband Kevin Federline, who was granted sole custody by a judge.
Since then, Spears has embarked on four worldwide tours and completed a residency in Las Vegas, where fans bought 900,000 tickets for nearly 250 performances.
In her remarks Wednesday, the singer said she had sometimes felt forced to perform.
Vivienne Thoreen, an attorney for Jamie Spears, said in a statement that her client “is sorry to see his daughter suffering and in so much pain.”
“Mr. Spears loves his daughter, and misses her very much,” Thoreen said.
The former teen star ended her remarks on a plaintive note. “I wish I could stay with you on the phone forever, because when I get off the phone with you, all of a sudden I hear all these no’s — no, no, no,” Spears told the courtroom.
“I feel ganged up on, and I feel bullied, and I feel left out and alone,” she said. “And I’m tired of feeling alone. I deserve to have the same rights as anybody does, by having a child, a family — any of those things.”