Ben Affleck's 22-year-old girlfriend speaks out over claims she caused him to return to rehab
Two weeks ago, it emerged that Ben Affleck had checked into rehab after his ex-wife, Jennifer Garner, staged an intervention for his drinking problems. The 46-year-old actor was known to have battled alcohol addiction in the past, but new worries arose when he was spotted receiving an alcohol delivery outside of his Brentwood, California home in recent weeks.
Now, online critics have lashed out at the star's 22-year-old girlfriend, Shauna Sexton, accusing her of being a negative influence on Affleck.
The Playboy model has only been dating Affleck for a brief amount of time, but - right from the offset - fans took a disliking to her, and now she's faced vicious messages from trolls on Instagram on Twitter who have essentially blamed her for the Justice League star's problems.
In a response to critics on the picture-sharing platform, Sexton hit out, saying that "media bulls**t" was responsible for spreading rumours about her having been a bad influence on Affleck.
"It's so bizarre to me that you have the energy to come to the comments section strictly to comment something negative?" she wrote.
"It's even more bizarre to me that you can somehow correlate someone's poor person[al] decisions to anyone other than that person. [I] never drank around or with him for the record.
"Don't pollute your brain with tabloid and media bulls**t. Form an educated opinion on things if you do decide to. Love yourself a little harder. Radiate kindness. Spread words of encouragement."
Sexton also commented on her drinking experiences before, and admitted that she had made mistakes - but that she had learned from them and would never want to inflict her actions on someone vulnerable.
"The weekend of my 21st birthday I got obliterated and wound up getting left at a bar at the oceanfront in Virginia Beach... where I was again taken to the drunk tank for being intoxicated publicly... while attempting to find a ride home.
"Do these mistakes define me? No, stupid minuscule s**t I learned from. Do these mistakes mean that I am human? Yes. Do these mistakes mean I would disrespect someone's hard-earned sobriety by drinking with them or in front of them? Hell no. I have limitless respect [for] people who have the humility and maturity to admit when they need to fix something in their life. I have even more respect for those who take action and actually do something about it."
This isn't Affleck's first time in rehab, either.
The actor first entered a treatment facility in 2001. Then, in March 2017, he announced that he had completed treatment for alcohol addiction. "I have completed treatment for alcohol addiction; something I’ve dealt with in the past and will continue to confront," he wrote on Facebook.
"I want to live life to the fullest and be the best father I can be. I want my kids to know there is no shame in getting help when you need it, and to be a source of strength for anyone out there who needs help but is afraid to take the first step.
"I’m lucky to have the love of my family and friends, including my co-parent, Jen, who has supported me and cared for our kids as I’ve done the work I set out to do. This was the first of many steps being taken towards a positive recovery."
Hopefully, this latest stay will give him the strength and willpower he needs to kick his addiction for good.