the law

Read Britney Spears’s Full, Harrowing Conservatorship Testimony in Her Own Words

Spears. Photo: VALERIE MACON/AFP via Getty Images

On Wednesday, June 23, Britney Spears spoke publicly for the first time about the 13-year conservatorship case — the court-ordered control over the 39-year-old pop star’s life and business — that has recently come under intense scrutiny as allegations of abuse of power have come out. In a nearly 40-minute testimony, Spears, speaking over the phone during the Zoom hearing, broke her silence and then some, recounting what she says has been over a decade of trauma and horror at the hands of the people in charge of her conservatorship, namely her father, Jamie Spears. Below is Spears’s complete statement to Judge Brenda Penny, lightly edited, in her own words.

So I have this written down, I have a lot to say. So bear with me. Basically, a lot has happened since two years ago the last time I was in court. To be honest with you, I haven’t been back to court for 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 hand 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 get away and walk away so easily. 

I’ll recap. I was on tour in 2018 that I was forced to do. My management said that 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 he conservatorship, I couldn’t even get my own attorney. 

So out of fear, I went ahead and 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 had 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 half of the time, the other time, in a West Lake studio I was basically directing most of the show with my [own] whereabouts where I prefer to rehearse. Meaning, I actually did most of the choreography and taught my dancers my new choreography myself. I take everything I do very seriously. There is 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. It’s never at rehearsals. They don’t even see me so how are they even claiming that?

When I said no to one dance move and to rehearsals, it was as if I planted a huge bomb somewhere. I said “no, I don’t want to do it this way.” After that my manager and my assistant and the people that were supposed to do the new show went into a room, shut the door, and didn’t come out for a 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 at the time, the therapist, Dr. Benson, who died, that my manager called him in that moment and told him that I wasn’t cooperating or following the guidelines in rehearsals, and he also said that I wasn’t taking my medication, which is so dumb because I have 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…they said that if I don’t want to do the new Vegas show that I don’t have to because I was getting really nervous. I said, “I can wait.”

They told me I could wait. It was like lifting literally 200 lbs off of me when they said I don’t have to do the show anymore. Because I was really, really hard on myself and it was too much. I couldn’t take it anymore. So I remember telling my assistant, “But you know what? I feel weird if I say no because I feel like they are going to 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 of this was false. He immediately, the next day, put me on Lithium. Out of nowhere.

He took me off my normal meds that I have been on for five years. And Lithium is a very, very strong and completely different medication compared to what I was used to taking. 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 six different nurses 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 at 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. But I was told I had to be tested over the Christmas holidays before they sent me away when my kids when 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 told, after I got a phone call from my Dad after I did the psych test with this lady, basically saying I had failed the test or whatever. “I’m sorry, Britney, you have to listen to your doctors, they are planning to send you to a small home in Beverly Hills to do a small rehab program that we are going to make up for you. You are 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 one hundred thousand percent, he loved it. 

I packed my bags and went to that place. I worked seven days a week with 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 cards, 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 week days. They watched me change every day naked, morning, noon and night. My body, I had no privacy. No door for my room. I gave eight gallons of blood each week. If I didn’t do any of my meetings, from 8 to 6 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 ten hours a day, seven days a week, it ain’t fun, especially when you can’t walk out the front door. And that is why I am telling you this again, two years later, after I have lied and told the whole world, I am okay and I’m happy. It’s a lie. 

I just thought that maybe if I said that enough 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 am telling you the truth, okay, I’m not happy. I can’t sleep. I’m so angry it’s insane. 

And I’m depressed. I cry everyday and the reason I am telling you this is that I don’t think how the state of California call have all this written in the court documents from the time I showed up and do absolutely nothing, and just hire another person with my money 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. They’re cool tactics working for Miley Cyrus as she smokes joints on stage 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 worked me so hard, when I do everything I am told, and the State of California allowed my ignorant father to take his own daughter, who only has a role with me if I work with him. 

They set back, the whole courts, and allowed him to do that to me. That is giving these people I have worked for WAY too much control. They also threatened me and said if I don’t go that I have to go to court and it will be more embarrassing me if the judge makes public the evidence that they have. “You have to go.” I was advised for my image that I need to go ahead and just go and get it over with.

They said that to me. I don’t even drink alcohol, but I should considering what they put my heart through. Also, the Bridges Facility they sent me to, I was doing this program for four months, so the last two months they sent me there. None of the kids did the program. They never showed up for any of them. You didn’t have to do anything you 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 un this conservatorship that, if I don’t do this, what they enslaved me to do, they tell that they are going to punish me? The last I spoke to you by keeping the conservatorships going and keeping my Dad in the loop made me feel like I was dead, like I didn’t matter. Nothing had been done. Like you thought I was lying or something. 

I’m telling you again because I’m not lying. I want to feel heard. I’m telling you this again so maybe you can understand the depth and degree and the damage that they did to me back them. 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 that I could petition the conservatorship to end it. I’m sorry for my ignorance but I honestly didn’t know that. But, honestly, I don’t think that I owe anyone to be evaluated. I’ve done more than enough that I don’t feel like should even be in a room with anyone to offend me to try and question my capacity 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 have been through. And that is the main reason. I’ve never said it openly. And mainly I didn’t wanna say it openly cause I didn’t think anyone would believe me. To be honest with you, that Paris Hilton story and what they did to her and 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 which is why 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. It’s been 13 years and it’s enough. 

It’s been a long time since I’ve owned my money and it is my wish and my dream for all of this to end without being tested, again. It makes no sense for the state of California to literally watch me with their own two eyes make a living for SO many people and pay SO many people on trucks and buses and on tour and on the road with me and be told that 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 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 for 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 would also like to be able to share my story with the world instead of being a hush-hush secret to benefit all of them. 

I want be able to be heard on what the did for me. But making me keep this in, it’s not good for my heart. I’ve been so angry and I cry every day. It concerns me that I’m told I’m not allowed to expose the people who did this to me. For my sanity, I need you, the judge, to approve for me to do an interview where I can heard on what they did to me. And, actually, I have the right to use my voice and take up for myself. 

My attorney said I can’t let the public know anything they did to me and by not saying anything is saying it was okay what they did to me. It’s not okay. Actually, I don’t want an interview, I would much rather have an open call for the press to hear, which I didn’t know today we were doing, so thank you. I needed to get this off my heart, the anger and all of it. It’s not fair that they tel lies openly. Even my own family, they do interviews talking about the situation and I can’t say one thing and making me feel so stupid. And my own people say I can’t say one thing. 

It’s been two years. I want a recorded call to you, which we are doing now, so the public knows what they did to me. I know my lawyer Sam has been very scared for me to come forward because he is saying that if I speak up that I’m being overworked in that facility that the rehab place would sue me. He told me I should keep it to myself. I’ve grown a close personal relationship with Sam my lawyer, I’ve been talking to him like 3 times a week now, and we have kind of built a relationship but I haven’t had the opportunity to handpick my own lawyer by myself. And I would like to be able to do that. 

The main reason I am here is that I want to end the conservatorship without having to be evaluated. I’ve done a lot of research, ma’am, and there are of judges who do end conservatorships for people without having to be evaluated. The only time they don’t is if a concerned family member says something is wrong with this person. 

And considering my family has lived off my conservatorship for 13 years, I wouldn’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 in exposing what they did to me. Also, I wanted to speak to a you at the moment about my obligations, which I personally don’t think 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 have to work for the people I pay.

I don’t like being told that, no matter what, even if I am sick, Jodi the conservator says I have to see my coach. I would like to do one meeting a week with a therapist. I’ve never, even before they sent me to that place, I only have two therapy sessions. I have a doctor and then a therapy person. What I’ve been forced to do in my life is illegal. 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 Jodi is starting to kind of take it too far with me. They had been going to therapy twice a week and a psychiatrist. I’ve never in my life had to do this. It takes too much out of me going to this man I don’t know. 1. I’m scared of people. I don’t trust people after what I’ve been through.

[There’s also] the clever setup of being in West Lake, one of the most exposed places. The paparazzi got me yesterday literally crying in therapy. It’s demoralizing. It’s embarrassing. I deserve privacy when I go and have therapy. Either at home, like they’ve done for eight years. They always came to my home. Like Dr. Benson, who died, they made me to go to place similar to West Lake which was very exposed and very bad. He, yes, illegally abused me, 100 %, by the treatment he gave me. And to be totally honest with you, when he passed away, I got on my knees and thanked God. In other words, my team is pushing it with me again.

To be honest I have trapped phobia from the trauma of being locked up in that place for four months. It is not okay to send me to that small room like that, twice a week, with another new therapist that I pay and I never even approved. I don’t like it. I don’t want to do that. I haven’t done anything wrong to deserve this treatment. It’s not okay to force me to do anything that I don’t want to do. By law, Jodi and this so-called, I should be able to sue them for threatening me that if I don’t go to 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 we will let you go.” But it was very clever that they picked one of the most exposed places in West Lake knowing that I have the hot topic of the conservatorship that over five paparazzi are going to show and get me crying coming out of the that place. I BEGGED them to let me do this at my home so that I would have privacy. I deserve privacy.

The whole conservatorship from the beginning, once you see someone, whoever it is, in it making money, making them 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 for myself and provide for myself and pay other people. It makes no sense; the laws need to change. What state always people to own another person’s money and account and threaten them and say 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 that every morning I wake up and know that I can’t go anywhere unless I meet people I don’t know every week in an office identical to the one where the therapist was very abusive to me. I truly believe this conservatorship is abusive. And we can sit here all day and say conservatorships are here to help people, but, ma’am, there’s 1,000 conservatorships that are abusive as well. I don’t feel like I can live a full life. I don’t owe them to see a man I don’t know and share my personal 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 want him to come to my home. I’m not willing to go to West Lake and be embarrassed by of all these paparazzi, these scummy paparazzi, laughing at my face while I’m crying and taking my pictures. All these nice dinners with people drinking wine at restaurants, watching me in these places. They set me up by taking me to the most exposed places and I told them I didn’t wanna 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 know what to say, honestly. But my requests are to end the conservatorship without being evaluated. I want to petition to end it but I don’t want to be sat in a room and evaluated for four hours like they did me before. And they made it even worse for me after that happened. I’m honestly new to all this and I’m doing research and 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 into consideration. I’ve also done research… wait.

It also took a year during COVID to get me any self-care methods. She [Jodi] said there were no services available. She’s lying, ma’am. My mom went to the spa 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 with their nails done different each time. She [Jodi] made me feel like my dad does, very similar behavior, but just a different dynamic.

Team wants me to work and stay at 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.

Also, I have a friend that I used to do AA meetings with for two years. I did three meetings a week and I 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. They’re making me feel like I live in a rehab program. This is my home. I’d like for my boyfriend [Sam Asghari] to be able to drive me in his car. And I wanna meet with a therapist once a week, not twice, and I want him to come to my home. Cause I know I actually do need a lil therapy [laughs].

And I would like to be able to progressively move froward. I want the real deal. I want to get married and have a baby. I was told right now in the conservatorship that I’m not able to get married or have a baby. I have an [IUD] inside my body right now, but I wanna get pregnant. I want it taken out so I can 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 any more children.

So basically, this conservatorship is doing me WAY more harm than good. I deserve to have a life. I’ve worked my whole life. I deserve to have a 2-3 year break to just do what I wanna do. But I do feel like there is a crutch here, and I feel open and okay to talk to you today about it. I wish I could stay on the phone with you forever because when I get off the phone with you, all of a sudden, I hear all these “nos.” “No. No No.” And all of a sudden I feel ganged up on, 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 else and I deserve to have a child and a family, any of those things.

And that’s all I wanted to say to you. Thank you again for letting me speak today.

Read Britney Spears’s Full Conservatorship Testimony