Lily Collins toxic former relationship
PARIS, FRANCE – FEBRUARY 25: (EDITORIAL USE ONLY) Lily Collins attends the Saint Laurent show as part of the Paris Fashion Week Womenswear Fall/Winter 2020/2021 on February 25, 2020 in Paris, France. (Photo by Dominique Charriau/WireImage)

In a new podcast interview, Lily Collins has opened up about being in a toxic, verbal and emotionally abusive former relationship with an ex-boyfriend whose behavior made the Emily in Paris star feel “very small” and triggered feelings of “panic” and “anxiety.” 

While speaking on the We Can Do Hard Things podcast, Collins explained during the relationship she was subject to “verbal and emotional abuse,” adding that her ex would call her names to belittle her, such as “Little Lily.”

“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,” Collins said.

“There were awful words and then there were belittling words,” she continued. “I became quite silent and comfortable in silence and feeling like I had to make myself small to feel super safe.”

Collins went on to reveal that even though she’s now in a healthy relationship with her husband, Charlie McDowell, who she married in September 2021, she can still be triggered by her past.

“The situations are completely different 10 years ago to now,” Collins said. “That panic is what I can still get triggered by.” She explained, “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.”

She continued, “It’s like a millisecond, or shorter than a millisecond, and your gut reacts, your heart starts beating, and all of a 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 and that’s the trigger and it’s f–king hard. it’s awful.”

Collins went on to reference something she learned in therapy about an aspect of evolution relevant to her response to the abuse at the time.

“When prey felt threatened they made themselves as small as possible, possibly by not eating, by making themselves look as least juicy and enticing as possible and that’s where they felt the safest,” Collins, who has opened up in the past about her struggles with an eating disorder, said.

“Now in my life, having my wonderful and supportive husband, we do communicate and talk about so much,” she added.