Disney actress Debby Ryan has become a spokesperson for a 24-hour counseling service after going public with her own experiences as a victim of an abusive relationship.
The Jessie star, 21, reveals a friendship with an unnamed male turned toxic when he became obsessed with spending every moment with Ryan and would often call her up to 40 times a day when they were apart.
Ryan even paid for a room at a hotel near her home for the friend to remain close after he tried to move into her pad, but when he threatened to commit suicide if she stopped spending time with him, she knew enough was enough.
She tells People.com, "It was a couple years ago, and things were seemingly amazing. Career-wise, they were great, and in general life they were great. But then I was in a friendship - kind of a working relationship - and it ended up becoming more and more destructive, and getting emotionally and mentally abusive.
"I was like, 'I'm a powerful woman and I'm a producer'. I never thought that this was happening to me, and it was absolutely happening to me. It was kind of late in the game by the time I realized that this was not healthy, that this was not a good situation and that I was in a relationship that in nature was abusive."
She continues, "I realized I'd done everything that I could do. It's not my purpose to sacrifice my own happiness and sacrifice my own mental health so that this guy doesn't overdose. I called someone and had someone go and be with him, and I removed myself from the situation and realized he's no longer mine to deal with."
Ryan admits many of her other friends were surprised to learn of the "secret" mental and emotional abuse, but now she is using her bad experiences to help others in similar situations by fronting the Don't Look Away campaign, which aims to provide free phone counseling to any victims of abuse.
She continues, "We believe that everyone deserves a healthy, loving relationship. I wanted to bring awareness (to the campaign), so I started opening up about my personal story. I feel like I've come out so much stronger, but it's a situation that enslaves you for a very long time."