Britney Spears, the 39-year-old American singer and songwriter, urged a Los Angeles court, on Wednesday, to end the “abusive” conservatorship with her father that she has lived under for 13 years, Variety reported.
“I’ve been in shock. I am traumatized. I just want my life back,” she said to the court in a 24-minute live-streamed address. It was the first time she spoke on the matter in a long time.
What is conservatorship?
US law defines a conservatorship as the appointment of a person or persons to assist with the management of the personal and financial affairs of someone who has been deemed to be fully or partially unable to manage on their own.
In 2008, at the age of 26, Spears entered into a temporary conservatorship or guardianship with her father following several media meltdowns. It gave her father, Jamie Spears, control over her financial affairs, estate, and her personal life.
In 2014, Spears had raised issues with her father’s role in the conservatorship while repeatedly asking to terminate it altogether but her court-appointed lawyer had not filed to do so. Once again in 2016, Spears told a court investigator assigned to her in the case that she wanted the conservatorship to end as soon as possible claiming that it was becoming an “oppressive and controlling tool” against her.
After over a decade of the conservatorship, in 2019, she filed a petition to detach herself from her father and entered into a legal battle against the conservatorship accusing him of several issues such as mismanaging her finances and alcohol problems. She claimed that she had no financial independence and her mental health was severely affected as well.
“It’s my wish and my dream for all of this to end without being tested,” said Spears, when she appeared through a video conference at the hearing on Wednesday, which was live-streamed to the media.
Addressing the multiple closed courtroom hearings in 2019, she began by saying, “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.”
Recalling her tour days from 2018, which she claimed she was forced to do as by contract her own management could sue her if she did not follow through with the tour, Spears said that it was “threatening and scary.”
Focusing on her absolute lack of financial independence, again and again, she said that she is the one working and earning, and providing jobs for so many people, but ironically has no control over her own life. “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. I’m great at what I do. And I allow these people to control what I do. And it’s enough. It makes no sense at all,” she said.
“The people who did that to me should not be able to walk away so easily,” she further added. “I shouldn’t be in a conservatorship if I can work and provide money — work for myself and pay other people.”
She also mentioned that she was not allowed to pick an attorney for herself at any point under the conservatorship.
Citing her mental health, therapy and medication, Spears said she was monitored and looked after by six different nurses and psychiatrists who put her on high doses of medicines that had impacts on her health. She said she was not allowed to go out of her own choice or go out in general. Spears also mentioned that due to her conservatorship she is not allowed to conceive or get married. She said she currently has an Intrauterine Device (IUD) to prevent pregnancy which she wanted to take out but she is not allowed to.
“The control he (her father) has over someone as powerful as me — he loved the control to hurt his own daughter 100,000%,” she said.
She also added that when she posted on social media that she was okay, she had lied as she was in denial. “I thought, just maybe, if I said that enough, maybe I might become happy, because I’ve been in denial. You know, fake it till you make it. But now, I’m telling you the truth. I’m not happy. I can’t sleep. I’m so angry, it’s insane. And I’m depressed. I cry every day.”
“So basically, this conservatorship is doing me way more harm than good,” she claimed.
More than a decade ago, Spears’ fans had launched an online campaign #FreeBritney after her severe public breakdown. The campaign gained momentum in recent years with the support of a number of celebrities, including Paris Hilton, Bette Midler and Miley Cyrus.
In February this year, The New York Times released the documentary Framing Britney Spears on the OTT platforms FX and Hulu that revolves around Spears’ life and career, beginning with her rise from a child singer to one of the biggest pop singers during the era of boy bands and her subsequent downfall. It also focuses on her struggles, the media coverage scrutinising and judging her life decisions, the #FreeBritney movement and her conservatorship case against her father.
Spears had said she was “embarrassed” after watching the documentary.