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The video of Diddy attacking Cassie is horrific, and here’s why you shouldn’t look away

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Content Warning: This story describes domestic violence and alleged sexual assault.

As sickening as it was to watch the footage of Diddy’s assault on Cassie Ventura in a hotel in 2016 — which was released by CNN on Friday, May 17, and confirms the claims she made in a lawsuit filed in November 2023 — it can and will never compare to the horrific suffering his victim endured. But we must not look away. Not today, not tomorrow, not ever.

Sometimes you have to expose an abuser for who he is, but the fact that it took a video kept secret for eight years to prove to the world what kind of man Sean “Diddy” Combs is a travesty.

We must remember that Ventura’s words alone were not enough when she first went public with her story. While they did not condone the allegations – which went beyond the video and included Combs regularly hitting, sexually abusing and raping Ventura during their on-off relationship between 2007 and 2018 – several well-known stars offered emotional support to Combs when they first came forward. Actor Tyrese Gibson (in a now-deleted post) publicly addressed Combs, saying, “God bless you Diddy, if you ever need to call me and just need a listening ear, I’m here bro.” And boxer Floyd Mayweather said on a podcast about Ventura’s account, “Even if that happened to my daughter, it would hurt me, but that’s the choice my daughter made. So I don’t want to kick anybody when they’re down.”

This footage, as horrific and difficult to watch as it is, is a reminder to all of us: Believe the women. We shouldn’t have to draw the comparison between their lawsuit and the video (which corroborates the hotel incident in their lawsuit), but it’s notable that Ventura’s memory of her suffering – even seven years after the assault – is as vivid and shocking as the footage itself. Memories of abuse don’t fade.

Just as Ventura stated in her complaint, video footage obtained by CNN showed an altercation at a Los Angeles hotel “in approximately March 2016.” Ventura’s complaint states that Combs “was extremely intoxicated and punched Ms. Ventura in the face, causing her a black eye.” According to the complaint, Combs (who had been sleeping) woke up when Ventura attempted to leave the hotel room and “followed her into the hallway of the hotel while yelling at her.”

“He grabbed her, then picked up glass vases in the hallway and threw them at her, causing shards of glass to shatter around her as she ran to the elevator to escape,” the complaint states.

In the footage released on May 17, Combs can be seen punching and kicking Ventura, dragging her into a corner and throwing objects in her direction.

There are countless horrific aspects to this story, but it’s worth examining some of the most important ones in more detail. First, that – in Ventura’s own words in the lawsuit – she was trapped, like so many victims of domestic violence: “Realizing that her escape would make Mr. Combs even angrier with her,” the lawsuit says, “and completely caught in his cycle of violence, Ms. Ventura returned to the hotel with the intention of apologizing for her escape from her tormentor.”

Secondly, who else knew? It’s got to stick in your throat. How many people saw it? Who didn’t do anything at the time, didn’t tell anyone? How could these people justify to themselves that a woman was beaten up and it was OK to let it go?

Third, how hard it is for women to be believed. It takes courage to go public and describe years of abuse at the hands of a former partner, let alone one of the most famous men in the world. Knowing that even if you do, and even if a video is released proving the veracity of a particular incident, the internet will still speculate that you did something to “deserve” it is unimaginable. Because yes, that’s exactly what happened (read – or don’t read – the comments on rapper 50 Cent’s Instagram post from today).

And to be clear, the hotel incident is just one of many Ventura described in her lawsuit, including that Combs was “prone to uncontrollable rage,” subjected her to “brutal” beatings in which he punched and kicked her, drugged her, and forced her to have sex with other men while he masturbated and filmed her. She also claimed he raped her when she tried to end the relationship in 2018. So as you watch the deeply disturbing video of Combs’ assault, also consider this (which many commenters online have brought up): If he was willing 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 of silence and darkness, I am finally ready to tell my story and speak on my own behalf and for the benefit of other women who face violence and abuse in their relationships.”

Combs denied the allegations when the lawsuit was filed in 2023, and his attorney Ben Brafman called them “lies.”

But there is no escaping this very real footage of Diddy’s attack on Cassie – not for him, not for those who have long known of the video’s existence (and who must be asked many questions), not for those who doubted her testimony, not for any of us. Ventura’s attorney Douglas H. Wigdor says, “The heartbreaking video has only further validated Mr. Combs’ disturbing and predatory behavior. Words cannot express the courage and strength Ms. Ventura showed in coming forward to bring this to light.”

It took courage. And it took strength. But worst of all, there was no need for video evidence for a woman to be believed. Let us learn a lesson from this.

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

Originally published on Glamour