In her new book, The Woman in Me, Britney Spears details the extent of her family’s attempts to control her life and her considerable estate through a conservatorship for 13 years. She suggests that she did not feel safe with her father, mother, and sister, repeatedly writing in the book that she feared her family was trying to kill her.
According to Spears, after her father, Jamie, was appointed by the state of California as the conservator of her finances and personal life in 2008, he controlled her work schedule, dating life, social life, money, medication, and even her diet. The pop star writes she was forced against her will into rehab facilities. Thoughts of dread pertaining to her safety seemed to begin around the time of her custody battle with ex-husband Kevin Federline.
In January of 2008, Spears’ sons were visiting her when a security guard who worked for Federline came to pick them up. Spears writes that she panicked, thinking she might never see her sons again and locked herself with her younger son, Jayden, in the bathroom and began to cry. She says a SWAT team burst through the bathroom.
“The only thing I was guilty of was feeling desperate to keep my own children for a few more hours and to get some assurance that I wasn’t going to lose them for good,” she writes. “Once they’d taken Jayden from me, they tied me onto a gurney and took me to the hospital.”
That same year, Spears’ father Jamie Spears filed the conservatorship papers. “At various times I pushed back, especially when my father took away access to my cell phone. I would be smuggled a private phone and try to break free. But they always caught me,” she writes. “And here’s the sad, honest truth: after everything I had been through, I didn’t have a lot of fight left in me. I was tired, and I was scared, too. After being held down on a gurney, I knew they could restrain my body any time they wanted to. They could’ve tried to kill me, I thought. I started to wonder if they did want to kill me.”
She continues, “So when my father said, ‘I call the shots,’ I thought, This is too much for me. But I didn’t see a way out. So I felt my spirit retreat, and I went on autopilot. If I play along, surely they’ll see how good I am and they will let me go.“
Spears says that a decade later, she again felt her life was in jeopardy. In 2018, she says her father pressured her to check into a rehab program in Beverly Hills. He allegedly told her that if she did not cooperate he would take her to court where he would make her “look like a f—ing idiot.”
“They kept me locked up against my will for months,” she writes. When she contacted her sister, Jamie Lynn Spears, and asked for help returning home, Jamie Lynn allegedly texted back, “Stop fighting it.”
“Along with the rest of them she kept acting like I was a threat in some way,” writes Spears. “This will sound crazy but I’ll say it again because it’s the truth: I thought they were going to try to kill me.”
When Spears finally returned home after months in the rehab facility, she says her family insisted on visiting her. “I was a shell of myself. I was still on lithium, which made my sense of time really hazy. And I was scared,” she writes. “It crossed my mind that they were only visiting to finish off what they’d started a few months earlier, to kill me for real. If that sounds paranoid, consider all the things I’d been through up until this point—the ways in which they had deceived and institutionalized me.”
Spears was finally able to fight the conservatorship in court. Inspired by the #FreeBritney movement, which she first found out about through a sympathetic nurse in the Beverly Hills facility, she hired a new lawyer. A judge brought the conservatorship to an end in November of 2021, saying it was “not longer required.”
But Spears believes she is still grappling with the fallout of battling her family for her independence. “Migraines are just one part of the physical and emotional damage I have now that I’m out of the conservatorship,” she writes. “I don’t think my family understands the real damage that they did.”