Debby Ryan shares her secret experience with abuse to empower victims

Mar 10, 2015 at 8:33 a.m. ET
Image: Brian To/

Debby Ryan has revealed she was in an abusive relationship during a recent interview with Teen Vogue.

The Jessie star has a very pointed reason for opening up about her experience: She wants to help others who may be in similar situations. And the actress wants to make sure people know that abuse can take on many different forms, not just physical.

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"We had a professional relationship and it was such emotional manipulation to the point where it became physical, and it stopped before it got too far," Ryan revealed. "The second someone puts their hand on you, a boundary has been crossed. If anyone is feeling manipulated or abused, that's the best it's going to get and you have to fight for yourself now."

The Disney Channel star explained, "People that demand your password and always look over your shoulder, ask who you're texting, and grab your phone and let themselves in — that's not okay. The time I decided to get out wasn't too late, but it was really, really late in the game. I'm very fortunate because I had people to help me get this person out of my life, out of my house — like physically lock the door."

Ryan told the magazine that while the two just had a professional relationship and were not together romantically, the emotional abuse was still extreme.

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Ryan said when she asked the abusive person to leave her life, things got really heated in a scary way. "I hadn't talked to him in a month. I told him to leave my life. So he threw a phone at me and it shattered to pieces and he was screaming, punching the walls, and cussing me out. Then he started bawling and said he's sorry and loves me."

Ryan was publicly involved in a relationship with Twenty One Pilots drummer Josh Dun and was very clear to say he was not the person she was referring to. The actress asserts he was never abusive.

Ryan revealed to the magazine that after she had realized how prevalent these abusive patterns were among women, she knew she had to speak out and help others.

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She's now supporting the Love Is Respect campaign, which offers a place for anyone struggling with abuse to get help at any time by simply texting 22522.

"There's a 24-hour, completely safe, completely anonymous texting counsel service. It's people our age helping you through it. You can text them anything, from getting help calling the police to asking about the signs of dating abuse."