Steve Irwin's daughter, Bindi Irwin, has ignited a family feud after claiming to have been in an "abusive relationship" with her grandfather.
Tension arose over the weekend after Bindi posted a photo on social media in which she paid tribute to her late father, her husband, Chandler Powell, and her father-in-law. The barbs began when a fan asked why she left her grandfather, Bob, out of the tribute.
In reply, Bindi accused Bob of subjecting her to years of "psychological abuse," according to NZ Herald.
"Unfortunately my grandfather Bob has shown no interest in spending time with me or my family," she wrote.
"He has returned gifts I’ve sent him after he opened them, he has ignored my correspondence and from the time I was a little girl he has ignored me, preferring to spend time doing anything else rather than being with me," she further claimed, according to 7News.
"He has never said a single kind word to me personally. It breaks my heart but it is not healthy to engage in an abusive relationship … I have struggled with this relationship my entire life and it brings me enormous pain."
Family member Bethanny Wheeler, who said she was the "granddaughter of Bob Irwin via marriage of my father and my Stepmother Mandy as a very young child," was quick to defend her grandfather, NZ Herald reported. In reply to Bindi's post, Wheeler described Bob as "the most genuinely beautiful human on this planet and has NEVER spoken out or put down anybody!"
"He is a man who sits silently and battles his demons alone, in what is great sadness," she continued. "He doesn't retaliate, only prays for his grandchildren's safety and good lives."
Wheeler added that her "sisters and brothers will happily back me up when I say that Bob Irwin is a passive and beautiful human and these lies need to stop."
Bob's granddaughter, Toni Johnstone, whose mother is Steve's sister, also spoke out against Bindi, stating that Steve would probably be "furious reading [Bindi's] comment if he were here today," 9Honey noted. "I honestly cannot believe how she can [say this] and then preach, 'Let's be kind to one another in the same post," Johnstone wrote.
On Monday, Bindi announced on Facebook that she would be taking a break from social media to focus her attention on her baby daughter and family.
"Recently, I’ve had many people reaching out to share their own stories of working hard to protect their mental health. Thank you for sharing and speaking your truth," she wrote in a Facebook post.
"Mental health deserves more understanding and support instead of being dismissed or patronised. You are absolutely worthy of love and kindness," Bindi concluded.
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