Caping for Chris Brown reinforces his violence. If you have thousands of fans who support you despite your abusive behavior, you have a loophole and an excuse.

(Content warning: Mention of domestic violence, physical abuse, sexual assault and names of known abusers.)

by Lara Witt

This week a judge granted Karrueche Tran a restraining order against Chris Brown. According to the Associated Press, Tran stated that Brown had told her that he planned on killing her. The sworn statement to the judge included details of physical abuse and stalking over the years, with Tran telling the judge,  “if no one else can have me, then he’s gonna ‘take me out.’”

Data shows that abusers within domestic partnerships and relationships are repeat offenders, usually replicating their behavior within two years of their first offense. While it is devastating to read Tran’s statement to the judge, it isn’t surprising to learn of Brown’s need to violently control the women in his life.

What is mildly surprising and always hurtful, is seeing women cape for Chris Brown and hurl accusations and misogynistic comments towards Karrueche. People who claim that victims of physical and verbal abuse are lying are the reason it is so difficult to be vocal about domestic violence. Not only do victims suffer at the hands of their abusers, they then suffer public backlash for their testimonies.

One very public example was when Amber Heard filed for divorce in 2016 from Johnny Depp, and then requested a restraining order against the actor with allegations that he had physically and verbally assaulted her throughout their marriage. I will never forget the very public vitriol that Heard was subjected to. And yet Johnny Depp is still fine, he still has millions of fans who will forever excuse his behavior and claim that Heard was lying, because women who lie about assault have so much to gain, am I right?

Related: Johnny Depp Domestic Abuse Allegations Show that Victim Blaming is Still a Thing

I doubt anyone will ever forget Brown’s brutal assault of Rihanna in 2009. But it certainly didn’t hinder his career or hurt his chances of winning any awards. In fact, in 2012, Brown won a Grammy Award for Best R&B Album.

Our entire social structure is set up to reward or tolerate men who hate women. Look no further than our current President. And if that isn’t enough, look at Roman Polanski, Johnny Depp, R. Kelly, Michael Fassbender, Sean Penn, Dr. Dre, Gary Oldman, Nicolas Cage, Josh Brolin, John Lennon and Marlon Brando, to name just a few very public ones. And yet both men and women consume the films, music or art created by these abusive men. And when we do, we are condoning their violence.

It takes a great deal of social conditioning to internalize the type of misogyny that makes women blame female victims of domestic violence, and that is devastating because one in three women report being physically abused by their partners. Women between the ages of 18 to 24 are most frequently abused, and 94 percent of victims of murder/suicides are women. These numbers are terrifying when we take into account that many of these statistics aren’t including victims of verbal or emotional abuse, and that many victims are too afraid to come forward.

Related: Why I Stayed With an Emotionally Abusive Man

Caping for Chris Brown reinforces his violence. It allows him to thrive despite any legal repercussions, because the messages of support are visible for him to see. They are out there for him to deny that his behavior is despicable and misogynistic. If you have thousands of fans who continue to support you despite your abusive behavior, you have a loophole and an excuse. Your violence is essentially sanctioned or, at the very least, excused simply because misogyny is systemic.

When we excuse violence and abusive behavior, when we express or condone violence either online, during a conversation amongst friends or family, we run the risk of silencing yet another victim of abuse. We’re making the world less safe for them, and we’re losing their trust.

Chris Brown is abusive. He is misogynistic. Caping for him won’t make him personally love you. When women support abusers, they do so without making themselves safer. Men won’t love them more for upholding patriarchy. That seat at the table has a broken leg and nails on the chair.

Lara Witt is a Desi-Kenyan writer who writes about pop culture through an intersectional feminist lens. Follow her on Twitter.

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