Opinion: Believe survivors

It’s the best support you can give them.
Sean Combs and Cassie Ventura. Photo: Shutterstock

Maybe most people reading this won’t remember the princess of R&B, Aaliyah, who died at the age of 22 in a plane crash, but I do. I remember reading rumours about her marriage to R. Kelly when she was 15, and he was almost twice her age and realising that everyone seemed to be pointedly ignoring it.

In reality, the Aaliyah open secret was just the tip of the iceberg; he had been accused of predatory, controlling, exploitative and abusive behaviour with other young girls for decades. It was literally only after the first season of the documentary Surviving R. Kelly was released in 2019 that something stuck and ended his reign of pain and terror.

At the time it happened, I remember wondering who would be next to be pulled down from his golden throne, and of course, there were often accusations thrown around at other rappers; however, this week, I saw a video so shocking that I was once again reminded about how far we still have to go when it comes to giving women in domestic abuse situations the aid they need.

Singer Cassie Ventura was just 21 when she started going out with the then 38-year-old Sean Combs, better known as P. Diddy. They broke up in 2018 after a decade together, and last November, she sued him for rape and abuse.

When the news broke, not only did his lawyer paint Ventura out to be a liar and gold-digging opportunist, but the internet had a field day at her expense and continued to do so even when other alleged victims came forward with similar stories. It was only this week that Ventura was vindicated when a 2016 video surfaced of Diddy beating and dragging her across the floor of a hotel.

So, why am I writing this today? I’m writing this because, even though there is more awareness than ever before about domestic violence and there has been an increase in reports locally over the past four years, people continue not to give this topic the necessary attention and gravitas.

Sadly, many remain more inclined to believe that women are making things up than address the elephant in the room. It takes strength and courage to come forward, especially when so much of you has been minimised and ripped to shreds by your perpetrator, and it really shouldn’t have to get to a point where a documentary or a video has to be released just for the bare minimum to be done.

You know that something is seriously broken in society when allegations keep pouring in, and people spend more energy rubbishing them than trying to understand what’s going on. 

Believe survivors – it’s the best support you can give them.

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