In a 24-minute statement against the conservatorship she’s lived under for 13 years, Britney Spears sounded off before a Los Angeles probate judge Brenda Penny on Wednesday, saying that she wants to sue her family and that she was “abused” by a previous therapist, among multiple other accusations.
“I’ve been in shock. I am traumatized,” she said, during a hearing that was livestreamed to the media by the court. “I just want my life back.” She said she wants the conservatorship, which she feels is “abusive,” to end “without having to be evaluated.”
She also said when she said she was okay in Instagram posts she shared over the past year, “I was in denial.”
Shortly after her statement, the court recessed, and after its return, the transmission was stopped.
Wednesday’s hearing came after years of near-silence on the issue from the singer, although the New York Times published a report earlier this week citing private legal documents that state she has been trying to end the conservatorship for several years, citing mismanagement by her father and the extreme legal costs involved.
A lightly edited transcript of Britney Spears’ statement follows. It includes run-on sentences and unclear statements, but the context seems relevant:
I just got a new phone, and I have a lot to say, so bear with me. Basically, a lot has happened since two years ago, the last time — I wrote all this down — the last time I was in court.
I will be honest with you. I haven’t been back to court in a long time, because I don’t think I was heard on any level when I came to court the last time. I brought four sheets of paper in my hands and wrote in length what I had been through the last four months before I came there. The people who did that to me should not be able to walk away so easily. I’ll recap. I was on tour in 2018. I was forced to do… My management said if I don’t do this tour, I will have to find an attorney —
JUDGE: Ms. Spears, I hate to interrupt you, but my court reporter is taking down what you’re saying, so you have to speak a little more slowly.
Oh, of course. Yes. Okay. The people who did this to me should not be able to walk away so easily. To recap: I was on tour in 2018. I was forced to do… My management said if I don’t do this tour, I will have to find an attorney, and by contract my own management could sue me if I didn’t follow through with the tour. He handed me a sheet of paper as I got off the stage in Vegas and said I had to sign it. It was very threatening and scary. And with the conservatorship, I couldn’t even get my own attorney. So out of fear, I went ahead and I did the tour.
When I came off that tour, a new show in Las Vegas was supposed to take place. I started rehearsing early, but it was hard because I’d been doing Vegas for four years and I needed a break in between. But no, I was told this is the timeline and this is how it’s going to go. I rehearsed four days a week. Half of the time in the studio and a half of the other time in a Westlake studio. I was basically directing most of the show. I actually did most of the choreography, meaning I taught my dancers my new choreography myself. I take everything I do very seriously. There’s tons of video with me at rehearsals. I wasn’t good — I was great. I led a room of 16 new dancers in rehearsals.
It’s funny to hear my managers’ side of the story. They all said I wasn’t participating in rehearsals and I never agreed to take my medication — which my medication is only taken in the mornings, never at rehearsal. They don’t even see me. So why are they even claiming that? When I said no to one dance move into rehearsals, it was as if I planted a huge bomb somewhere. And I said no, I don’t want to do it this way.
After that, my management, my dancers and my assistant of the new people that were supposed to do the new show all went into a room, shut the door and didn’t come out for at least 45 minutes. Ma’am, I’m not here to be anyone’s slave. I can say no to a dance move. I was told by my at-the-time therapist, Dr. Benson — who died [in 2019] — that my manager called him and then that moment and told him I wasn’t cooperating or following the guidelines in rehearsals. And he also said I wasn’t taking my medication, which is so dumb, because I’ve had the same lady every morning for the past eight years give me my same medication. And I’m nowhere near these stupid people. It made no sense at all.
There was a week period where they were nice to me, and I told them I don’t want to do the — They were nice to me, they said if I don’t want to do the new Vegas show, I don’t have to because I was getting really nervous. It was like lifting literally 200 pounds off of me when they said I don’t have to do the show anymore, because it was really really hard on myself and it was too much. I couldn’t take it anymore.
So I remember telling my assistant, but y’know what I feel weird if I say no, I feel like they’re gonna come back and be mean to me or punish me or something. Three days later, after I said no to Vegas, my therapist sat me down in a room and said he had a million phone calls about how I was not cooperating in rehearsals, and I haven’t been taking my medication. All this was false. He immediately, the next day, put me on lithium out of nowhere. He took me off my normal meds I’ve been on for five years. And lithium is a very, very strong and completely different medication compared to what I was used to. You can go mentally impaired if you take too much, if you stay on it longer than five months. But he put me on that and I felt drunk. I really couldn’t even take up for myself. I couldn’t even have a conversation with my mom or dad really about anything. I told him I was scared, and my doctor had me on six different nurses with this new medication, come to my home, stay with me to monitor me on this new medication, which I never wanted to be on to begin with. There were six different nurses in my home and they wouldn’t let me get in my car to go anywhere for a month.
Not only did my family not do a goddamn thing, my dad was all for it. Anything that happened to me had to be approved by my dad. And my dad acted like he didn’t know that I was told I had to be tested over the Christmas holidays before they sent me away, when my kids went to home to Louisiana. He was the one who approved all of it. My whole family did nothing.
Over the two-week holiday, a lady came into my home for four hours a day, sat me down and did a psych test on me. It took forever. But I was I was told I had to. Then after, I got a phone call from my dad, basically saying I’d failed the test or whatever, whatever. “I’m sorry, Britney, you have to listen to your doctors. They’re planning to send you to a small home in Beverly Hills to do a small rehab program that we’re going to make up for you. You’re going to pay $60,000 a month for this.” I cried on the phone for an hour and he loved every minute of it.
The control he had over someone as powerful as me — he loved the control to hurt his own daughter 100,000%. He loved it. I packed my bags and went to that place. I worked seven days a week, no days off, which in California, the only similar thing to this is called sex trafficking. Making anyone work against their will, taking all their possessions away — credit card, cash, phone, passport — and placing them in a home where they work with the people who live with them. They all lived in the house with me, the nurses, the 24-7 security. There was one chef that came there and cooked for me daily during the weekdays. They watched me change every day — naked – morning, noon and night. My body – I had no privacy door for my room. I gave eight vials (?) of blood a week.
If I didn’t do any of my meetings and work from eight to six at night, which is 10 hours a day, seven days a week, no days off, I wouldn’t be able to see my kids or my boyfriend. I never had a say in my schedule. They always told me I had to do this. And Ma’am, I will tell you, sitting in a chair 10 hours a day, seven days a week, it ain’t fun… and especially when you can’t walk out the front door.
And that’s why I’m telling you this again two years later, after I’ve lied and told the whole world “I’m OK and I’m happy.” It’s a lie. I thought I just maybe if I said that enough maybe I might become happy, because I’ve been in denial. I’ve been in shock. I am traumatized. You know, fake it till you make it. But now I’m telling you the truth, OK? I’m not happy. I can’t sleep. I’m so angry it’s insane. And I’m depressed. I cry every day.
And the reason I’m telling you this is because I don’t think how the state of California can have all this written in the court documents from the time I showed up and do absolutely nothing — just hire, with my money, another person and keep my dad on board. Ma’am, my dad and anyone involved in this conservatorship and my management who played a huge role in punishing me when I said no — ma’am, they should be in jail. Their cruel tactics working for Miley Cyrus as she smokes on joints onstage at the VMAs — nothing is ever done to this generation for doing wrong things.
But my precious body, who has worked for my dad for the past fucking 13 years, trying to be so good and pretty. So perfect. When he works me so hard. When I do everything I’m told and the state of California allowed my father — ignorant father — to take his own daughter, who only has a role with me if I work with him, they’ve set back the whole course and allowed him to do that to me. That’s given these people I’ve worked for way too much control. They also threaten me and said, If I don’t go, then I have to go to court. And it will be more embarrassing to me if the judge publicly makes the evidence we have.
You have to go. I was advised for my image, I need to go ahead [to rehab] and just go and get it over with. They said that to me. I don’t even drink alcohol — I should drink alcohol, considering what they put my heart through. Also the Bridges facility they sent me to, none of the kids — I was doing this program for four months, so the last two months I went to a Bridges facility. None of the kids there did the program. They never showed up for any of them. You didn’t have to do anything if you didn’t want to. How come they always made me go? How come I was always threatened by my dad and anybody that participated in this conservatorship? If I don’t do this, what they tell me to enslave me to do, they’re gonna punish me.
The last time I spoke to you by just keeping the conservatorship going, and also keeping my dad in the loop, made me feel like I was dead — like I didn’t matter, like nothing had been done to me, like you thought I was lying or something. I’m telling you again, because I’m not lying. I want to feel heard. And I’m telling you this again, so maybe you can understand the depth and the degree and the damage that they did to me back then.
I want changes, and I want changes going forward. I deserve changes. I was told I have to sit down and be evaluated, again, if I want to end the conservatorship. Ma’am, I didn’t know I could petition the conservatorship to end it. I’m sorry for my ignorance, but I honestly didn’t know that. But honestly, but I don’t think I owe anyone to be evaluated. I’ve done more than enough. I don’t feel like I should even be in room with anyone to offend me by trying to question my capacity of intelligence, whether I need to be in this stupid conservatorship or not. I’ve done more than enough.
I don’t owe these people anything — especially me, the one that has roofed and fed tons of people on tour on the road. It’s embarrassing and demoralizing what I’ve been through. And that’s the main reason I’ve never said it openly. And mainly, I didn’t want to say it openly, because I honestly don’t think anyone would believe me. To be honest with you, the Paris Hilton story on what they did to her to that that school, I didn’t believe any of it. I’m sorry. I’m an outsider, and I’ll just be honest. I didn’t believe it.
And maybe I’m wrong, and that’s why I didn’t want to say any of this to anybody, to the public, because I thought people would make fun of me or laugh at me and say, “She’s lying, she’s got everything, she’s Britney Spears.”
I’m not lying. I just want my life back. And it’s been 13 years. And it’s enough. It’s been a long time since I’ve owned my money. And it’s my wish and my dream for all of this to end without being tested. Again, it makes no sense whatsoever for the state of California to sit back and literally watch me with their own two eyes, make a living for so many people, and pay so many people, trucks and buses on the road with me and be told, I’m not good enough. But I’m great at what I do. And I allow these people to control what I do, ma’am. And it’s enough. It makes no sense at all.
Now, going forward, I’m not willing to meet or see anyone. I’ve met with enough people against my will. I’m done. All I want is to own my money, for this to end, and my boyfriend to drive me in his fucking car.
And I would honestly like to sue my family, to be totally honest with you. I also would like to be able to share my story with the world, and what they did to me, instead of it being a hush-hush secret to benefit all of them. I want to be able to be heard on what they did to me by making me keep this in for so long, it is not good for my heart. I’ve been so angry and I cry every day. It concerns me, I’m told I’m not allowed to expose the people who did this to me.
For my sanity, I need you to the judge to approve me to do an interview where I can be heard on what they did to me. And actually, I have the right to use my voice and take up for myself. My attorney says I can’t. It’s not good. I can’t let the public know anything they did to me and by not saying anything, is saying it’s OK.
It’s not OK. Actually, I don’t want an interview — I’d much rather just have an open call to you for the press to hear, which I didn’t know today we’re doing, so thank you. Instead of having an interview, honestly, I need that to get it off my heart, the anger and all of it that’s been happening.
It’s not fair they’re telling me lies about me openly. Even my family, they do interviews to anyone they want on news stations. My own family doing interviews, and talking about the situation and making me feel so stupid. And I can’t say one thing. And my own people say I can’t say anything.
It’s been two years. I want a recorded call to you actually, we’re doing this now — which I didn’t know that we’re doing this. My lawyer, Sam (Ingham), has been very scared for me to go forward because he’s saying if I speak up, I’m being overworked in that facility of that rehab place, that rehab place will sue me. He told me I should keep it to myself. I would personally like to — actually, I’ve grown with a personal relationship with Sam, my lawyer, I’ve been talking to him like three times a week now, we’ve kind of built a relationship but I haven’t really had the opportunity by my own self to actually handpick my own lawyer by myself. And I would like to be able to do that.
The main reason why I’m here is because I want to end the conservatorship without having to be evaluated. I’ve done a lot of research, ma’am. And there’s a lot of judges who do end conservatorships for people without them having to be evaluated all the time. The only times they don’t is if a concerned family member says something’s wrong with this person.
And considering my family has lived off my conservatorship for 13 years, I won’t be surprised if one of them has something to say going forward, and say, “We don’t think this should end, we have to help her.” Especially if I get my fair turn exposing what they did to me.
Also I want to speak to you about my obligations, which, I personally don’t think at the very moment I owe anybody anything. I have three meetings a week I have to attend no matter what. I just don’t like feeling like I work for the people whom I pay. I don’t like being told I have to, no matter what, even if I’m sick. Jodi the conservator says I have to see my Coach Ken even when I’m sick. I would like to do one meeting a week with a therapist. I’ve never before, even before they sent me to that place, had two therapy sessions. I had a doctor and then a therapy person. What I’ve been forced to do illegal in my life. I shouldn’t be told I have to be available three times a week to these people I don’t know.
I’m talking to you today because I feel again, yes, even [acting conservator] Jodi [Montgomery] is starting to kind of take it too far with me. They have me going to therapy twice a week and a psychiatrist. I’ve never in the past – wait, they had me going, yeah, twice a week and Dr. Gold, so that’s three times a week. I’ve never in the past had to see a therapist more than once a week. It takes too much out of me going to this man I don’t know.
Number one, I’m scared of people. I don’t trust people with what I’ve been through. And the clever setup of being in Westlake, one of the most exposed places in Westlake, which, yesterday, paparazzi showed me coming out of the place literally crying in therapy. It’s embarrassing, and it’s demoralizing. I deserve privacy when I go and have therapy, either at my home, like I’ve done for eight years. They’ve always come to my home. Or when Dr. Benson — the man that died — I went to a place similar to what I went to in Westlake which was very exposed and really bad. Okay, so where was I? It was like, it was identical to Dr. Benson, who illegally, yes 100% abused me by the treatment he gave me, to be totally honest with you, I was so —
JUDGE: Ms. Spears, excuse me for interrupting you, but my reporter says if you could just slow it down a little bit, because she’s trying to make sure she gets everything that you’re saying.
OK, cool… And to be totally honest with you, when [Dr. Benson] passed away, I got on my knees and thanked God. In other words, my team is pushing it with me again. I have trapped phobias being in small rooms because of the trauma, locking me up for four months in that place. It’s not okay for them to send me — sorry, I’m going fast — to that small room like that twice a week with another new therapist that I pay that I never even approved. I don’t like it. I don’t want to do that. And I haven’t done anything wrong to deserve this treatment.
It’s not okay to force me to do anything I don’t want to do. By law, Jodi and this so-called team should honestly – I should be able to sue them for threatening me and saying if I don’t go and do these meetings twice a week, we can’t let you have your money and go to Maui on your vacations. You have to do what you’re told for this program and then you will be able to go. But it was a very clever thing, one of the most exposed places in Westlake, knowing I have the hot topic of the conservatorship, that over five paparazzis are going to show up and get me crying coming out of that place. I begged them to make sure that they did this at my home, so I would have privacy. I deserve privacy.
The conservatorship, from the beginning, once you see someone, whoever it is, in the conservatorship making money, making them money, and myself money and working – that whole statement right there, the conservatorship should end. I shouldn’t be in a conservatorship if I can work and provide money and work for myself and pay other people — it makes no sense. The laws need to change. What state allows people to own another person’s money and account and threaten them and saying, “You can’t spend your money unless you do what we want you to do.” And I’m paying them.
Ma’am, I’ve worked since I was 17 years old. You have to understand how thin that is for me every morning I get up to know I can’t go somewhere unless I meet people I don’t know every week in a office identical to the one where the therapist was very abusive to me. I truly believe this conservatorship is abusive, and that we can sit here all day and say oh, conservatorships are here to help people. But ma’am, there is a thousand conservatorships that are abusive as well.
I don’t feel like I can live a full life. I don’t owe them to go see a man I don’t know and share him my problems. I don’t even believe in therapy. I always think you take it to God. I want to end the conservatorship without being evaluated. In the meantime, I want this therapist once a week. I just want him to come to my home. I’m not willing to go to Westlake and be embarrassed by all these scummy paparazzi laughing at my face while I’m crying, coming out and taking my pictures as all these white nice dinners, where people drinking wine at restaurants, watching these places. They set me up by sending me to the most exposed places, and I told them I didn’t want to go there because I knew paparazzi would show up there.
They only gave me two options for therapists. And I’m not sure how you make your decisions, ma’am. But this is the only chance for me to talk to you for a while. I need your help, so if you can just kind of let me know where your head is. I don’t really honestly know what to say but my requests are just to end the conservatorship without being evaluated. I want to petition basically to end the conservatorship. But I don’t want to be evaluated, and be sat in a room with people four hours a day, like they did me before. And they made it even worse for me after that happened.
I’m honestly new with this. And I’m doing research on all these things. I do know common sense and the method that things can end – for people, it has ended without them being evaluated. So I just want you to take that in consideration.
It also took a year, during COVID, to get me any self-care methods. She said there were no services available. She’s lying, ma’am. My mom went to the spot twice in Louisiana during COVID. For a year, I didn’t have my nails done — no hairstyling and no massages, no acupuncture. Nothing for a year. I saw the maids in my home each week with their nails done different each time. She made me feel like my dad does. Very similar, her behavior and my dad, but just a different dynamic.
Team wants me to work and stay home instead of having longer vacations. They are used to me sort of doing a weekly routine for them. And I’m over it. I don’t feel like I owe them anything at this point. They need to be reminded they actually work for me.
I was supposed to be able to — I have a friend that I used to do AA meetings with. I did AA for two years. I did three meetings a week. I’ve met a bunch of women there. And I’m not able to see my friends that live eight minutes away from me, which I find extremely strange.
I feel like they’re making me feel like I live in a rehab program. This is my home. I’d like for my boyfriend to be able to drive me in his car. And I want to meet with a therapist once a week, not twice a week. And I want him to come to my home. Because I actually know I do need a little therapy. (Laughing.)
I would like to progressively move forward and I want to have the real deal, I want to be able to get married and have a baby. I was told right now in the conservatorship, I’m not able to get married or have a baby, I have a (IUD) inside of myself right now so I don’t get pregnant. I wanted to take the (IUD) out so I could start trying to have another baby. But this so-called team won’t let me go to the doctor to take it out because they don’t want me to have children – any more children. So basically, this conservatorship is doing me waaay more harm than good.
I deserve to have a life. I’ve worked my whole life. I deserve to have a two to three year break and just, you know, do what I want to do. But I do feel like there is a crutch here. And I feel open and I’m okay to talk to you today about it. But I wish I could stay with you on the phone forever, because when I get off the phone with you, all of a sudden all I hear all these no’s — no, no, no. And then all of a sudden I get I feel ganged up on and I feel bullied and I feel left out and alone. 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, and more so.
And that’s all I wanted to say to you. And thank you so much for letting me speak to you today.
JUDGE: Ms. Spears, you’re quite welcome. And also, I just want to tell you that I certainly am sensitive to everything that you said and how you’re feeling and I know that it took a lot of courage for you to say everything you have to say today, and I want to let you know that the court does appreciate your coming on the line and sharing how you’re feeling.