Lily Collins shares her experience of emotional abuse and opens up about 'toxic' past relationship

"[It] was a lot of verbal and emotional abuse and being made to feel very small."

Lily Collins
(Image credit: Amy Sussman / Getty)

Trigger warning - discussion of emotional abuse 

Lily Collins has candidly opened up about a 'toxic' past relationship in her twenties where she was 'made to feel very small' and subjected to 'belittling' name calling and emotional abuse

The Emily in Paris star appeared on the We Can Do Hard Things podcast and hosts Glennon Doyle, Amanda Doyle and Abby Wambach: "For me, my romantic toxic relationship was a lot of verbal and emotional abuse and being made to feel very small. He would call me ‘Little Lily'... and he’d use awful words about me in terms of what I was wearing and would call me a whore and all these things."

Lily added that his comments would make her feel as though she 'had to make myself small to feel super safe', continuing: "When you get told something over and over again, and you’re at an impressionable age, you become conditioned to believe that that is what it is and you are what they say you are. And it’s confusing."

This left the actor 'physically reacting', and experiencing skin breakouts, panic attacks and kidney infections. 

However, Lily said she sought therapy when the relationship ended and it was only then that she recognised she had experienced emotional abuse. Despite the amount of time that has passed, she commented on how these experiences can resurface years later. 

"It’s not until now that I can recognise that flight or fight feeling, or the feeling of needing to hibernate," she said.

"That panic is what I can still get triggered by, even if I’m in the most healthy relationship, there can be a moment that happens throughout the day where history comes back like that. Your gut reacts, your heart drops and all of the sudden you’re taken back to that moment where they said that thing to you 10 years ago but you’re not in that situation now."

The Emily in Paris star is now married to filmmaker Charlie McDowell, with the couple exchanging vows in 2021, two years after meeting on the set of Gilded Rage

To find out more about the signs of abuse and how to seek support, visit

Jadie Troy-Pryde
News Editor

Jadie Troy-Pryde is News Editor, covering celebrity and entertainment, royal, lifestyle and viral news. Before joining the team in 2018 as the Lifestyle and Social Media Editor, she worked at a number of women’s fashion and lifestyle titles including Grazia, Women’s Health and Stylist, and now heads the Marie Claire UK news desk.