The way Diddy would stare at Cassie is scary 😨

As sickening as it was to watch the footage of Diddy assaulting Cassie Ventura at a hotel in 2016—released Friday, May 17, by CNN, and corroborating the claims she made in a lawsuit filed in November 2023—it can and will never compare to the terrible suffering experienced by his victim. But we must not look away. Not today, not tomorrow, not ever.

Sometimes an abuser has to be exposed for who and what they are. But the fact it took a video kept hidden for around eight years to prove to the world the kind of man Sean “Diddy” Combs is, is a travesty.

We mustn’t forget that Ventura’s words alone were not enough when she first came forward with her story. While they didn’t condoning the allegations—which went further than the video and included how Combs beat Ventura regularly during their on-and-off relationship between 2007 and 2018, abused her sexually, and raped her—multiple high-profile stars offered Combs emotional support when they first surfaced. Actor Tyrese Gibson (in a since deleted post) reached out publicly to Combs saying, “God bless you Diddy if you ever need to call me and just need a listening [ear] I’m here here bro.” And boxer Floyd Mayweather said on a podcast about Ventura’s account: “Even if that happened to my daughter, I would be hurt, but that’s the choice that my daughter made. So, I don’t wanna kick nobody while they’re down.”

This footage, however horrific and difficult it is to watch, is a reminder to us all: Believe women. We shouldn’t have to draw the comparisons between her legal filing and the video (which corroborates the hotel incident in her lawsuit), but it is worth noting how—even seven years on from the assault—Ventura’s recall of her suffering is as vivid and shocking as the footage itself. Memories of abuse do not fade.

Just as Ventura detailed in her legal claim, the video footage obtained by CNN showed that there was an altercation that occurred at a hotel in Los Angeles “around March 2016.” Ventura’s legal filing stated that Combs became “extremely intoxicated and punched Ms. Ventura in the face, giving her a black eye.” Per the lawsuit, when Ventura attempted to leave the hotel room, Combs (who had been asleep) woke up and “followed her into the hallway of the hotel while yelling at her.”

“He grabbed at her, and then took glass vases in the hallway and threw them at her, causing glass to crash around them as she ran to the elevator to escape,” the complaint alleged.

In the footage released on May 17, camera footage shows Combs beating and kicking Ventura, dragging her to a corner, and throwing objects in her direction.

There are innumerable horrific aspects to this story, but it’s worth examining more deeply some key ones. First, that—in Ventura’s own words in the lawsuit—she was stuck, like so many victims of domestic abuse are: “Upon realizing that her running away would cause Mr. Combs to be even angrier with her,” the complaint outlines, “and completely stuck in his vicious cycle of abuse, Ms. Ventura returned to the hotel with the intention of apologizing for running away from her abuser.”

Second, the question of who else knew. That part has to stick in the throat. How many people saw? Who did nothing at the time, reported it to no one? How were those people able to justify to themselves that a woman got beaten up and that it was okay to leave it be?

Third, how hard it is for women to be believed. To come forth and detail years of abuse at the hands of a former partner, let alone one of the most famous men in the world, takes guts. To know that even when you do, and even when a video that proves the accuracy of a specific incident is released, the internet still speculates that you had done something to “deserve it” is unimaginable. Because yes, that is what happened (do—or don’t, for that matter—check the comments on rapper 50 Cent’s Instagram post earlier today).

And just to be clear, the incident in the hotel is just one of many that Ventura described in her suit. Including that Combs was “prone to uncontrollable rage,” subjected her to “savage” beatings in which he punched and kicked her, plied her with drugs, and forced her to have sex with other men while he masturbated and filmed them. She also alleged that he raped her when she tried to leave the relationship in 2018. So when or if you choose to watch the deeply disturbing video of Combs’s assault, think too about this (which many commenters online have raised): If he was prepared to hurt her like that in a public place, what on earth could he have done in private?

Ventura said of the lawsuit: “After years in silence and darkness, I am finally ready to tell my story, and to speak up on behalf of myself and for the benefit of other women who face violence and abuse in their relationships.”

Combs denied the allegations when the suit was filed in 2023, with his lawyer Ben Brafman calling them “lies.”

But there is no hiding from this very real footage of Diddy assaulting Cassie—not for him, not for those who have long known about the video’s existence (of whom many questions have to be asked), not for those who have doubted her account, not for any of us. As Ventura’s attorney Douglas H. Wigdor, says: “The gut-wrenching video has only further confirmed the disturbing and predatory behavior of Mr. Combs. Words cannot express the courage and fortitude that Ms. Ventura has shown in coming forward to bring this to light.”

It did take courage. And it did take strength. But most upsetting of all is that it shouldn’t have taken video proof for a woman to be believed. Let’s take a lesson from that.

If you need help or support, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline, 800-799-SAFE (7233) or use their live web chat.

 

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