So, why you?
I had never heard of XXXTentacion until the drummer of my favourite band, Travis Barker, tweeted his prayers for him two nights ago and then followed up with the news that he had passed away. I investigated out of curiosity and was met with two opposing walls; a group of (mostly) women claiming he was an abuser and a group of fans who said it didn't matter, either because he was "working on himself" when he died, or...it just didn't matter.
I watched his interview on the No Jumper podcast where he described his beating of his "faggot" cellmate. He talked about it as calmly as if it was washing a car or making a cup of coffee. He held a knife to his ex girlfriend's throat, choked her and threatened to glass her. He trapped her, pregnant, in a room for two days with no phone. She reported him to the police but later requested that charges against him be dropped; XXX was jailed in the run up to the domestic abuse case for witness tampering. She had dropped the charges because he'd threatened and harassed her on seven different occasions. When asked about #MeToo in an interview, he said "women are almost more powerful than men" and "you’re only belittled if you want to be belittled".
And you tweeted:
And I cried.
It was pouring rain last night and the World Cup was finished for the evening so I put on my running clothes at half past nine and went out to clear my head. I expected some kind of relief or clarity from my time pounding the pavements of my village but when I got home, soaking wet and aching, it sort of sunk in that this kind of talk around abuse is probably going to upset me for the rest of my life. It wasn't a great realisation to have. I stretched, showered and went to bed.
My abuser is a talented computer programmer and PhD student who made me strip naked during arguments, pinned me down and spat in my face and made sure he only beat me around my kidneys and upper arms so nobody would see the bruises. And of course, there was the alienation from friends and family and slow grinding down of my self esteem. I'm qualified as a journalist. I turned down the first job I was offered because he convinced me to. It took me six years to get another offer.
The Sheriff who sentenced him said he had matured since he had been with me and the six years of abuse was a "first time offence". My ex partner paid me £500 in instalments and did community service for nine months.
I used to think, "At least people will judge him on his conviction and it will make his life a little more difficult." I don't think that any more.
Is my ex boyfriend's role as a computer programmer worthwhile enough to justify what he did to me? What if he used his skills to develop an app that helps disabled people, like he did in the last year of his Masters degree? Or is it exclusively "artists" like XXXTentacion that deserve redemption because they happen to make music? What about Kevin Spacey? He's one of the greatest actors to work in yours and my lifetime. Why does he get written off but XXX gets prayers and blessings? Please help me understand. I honestly don't know the difference.
What about Jimmy Savile? You made two documentaries about him; one when he was living and another after his death, once the truth came out about his horrific and prolific child abuse. People tend to put abusers in different boxes but sexual, domestic and child are all pretty textbook in their methods. Notwithstanding his personal demons, he gave an incredible amount of money to charity.
But don't people deserve to work on themselves, Lauren? Can't abusers change?
Yes but it. is. hard. It's a complete rewiring of your attitudes towards relationships, towards women, towards yourself. It's having to teach grown men that women are not in relationships with them to be their servants because that is honestly what they believe. They think they are the sun and their partners should revolve around them, never flying off their rotation to attend to their own desires and goals. We're supposed to just keep spinning. That is a huge thing to unlearn, especially since the first step of change is accepting that you are wrong. It's not a personal demon like alcoholism or fear of failure. They can't just put down the bottle.
Of course they can change...but why would they when it's so difficult and time consuming? Look at all these people standing up for XXX online. Why on earth would he need to change? Chris Brown still gets plenty work. People just don't care. They don't care.
So, why you Louis?
You acknowledged the abuse in your tweet and brushed right past it. You let me and all of the other fans of your work who have been victims of abuse know that it doesn't matter to you.
I kind of always assumed you were on my team. I kind of thought you knew better.
I guess now I know better.