Nearly three years ago, I was granted a restraining order against an ex-boyfriend who was bombarding me and my loved ones with messages, threats and accusations across multiple social media platforms even after I moved 300 miles away from him.
That’s a trauma I now relive every day that Kanye West makes headlines for his latest harassment of Kim Kardashian.
I’m not here to debate the eldest Kardashian’s worthiness of fame or fortune, but I will take a stand for her right to move on after a breakup without being constantly harassed.
It’s almost impossible to find someone unfamiliar with the situation of some of the wealthiest and most famous people in the world, but here’s a brief synopsis. Kardashian and West married in 2014 and have been hyper analyzed ever since. Their divorce has proved increasingly messy due to this fame, and West’s outbursts over the last month, particularly in response to Kardashian’s attempt to move on with Saturday Night Live comedian Pete Davidson at the end of 2021, have included frequent negative comments toward his former wife and her new beau, as reported by the Rolling Stone.
West has consistently critiqued the way Kardashian raises their children publicly on social media platforms, despite repeated requests by her to stop and despite repeated refutes of his accusations, including the infamous fiasco where he claimed she barred him from his daughter’s birthday party and took to Instagram to find the address. He has released the song “Eazy,” in which he raps “God saved me from that crash/Just so I can beat Pete Davidson’s ass,” complete with a claymation video where he kidnaps and kills Davidson – not to mention he nicknamed the man “Skete” during his constant attacks.
When comedian and host of the Daily Show Trevor Noah, who said he grew up in an abusive household, called out the abuse with the public comment of “What I see from the situation is a woman who wants to live her life without being harassed by an ex-boyfriend or an ex-husband or an ex-anything,” West responded with a racial slur that ended up getting him suspended from Instagram and led to him being barred from performing at the Grammys.
Of course, the Internet has fallen into several camps: Team Kanye, Team Kim and Team Chaos. Many have embraced West’s mean-spirited taunting and replicated it themselves, lashing out against Kardashian and Davidson via social media.
But here’s the thing: Kim, Kanye, Pete – none of them will ever read your online messages or hear your comments about domestic violence, stalking and abuse. They’ll never know whose side you took, and they’ll never care.
I do. The people in your life who are victims will hear it and they will remember it. It will shape the way they perceive you and their relationship to you. And it’s more people than you might think.
Intimate partner violence (IPV), which is abuse or aggression that occurs in a romantic relationship, including with current and former partners, affects 1 in 4 women and nearly 1 in 10 men, according to the CDC. Ten percent of women and 2% of men have been stalked by an intimate partner. Oftentimes, if unchecked, IPV can result in death. 1 in 5 homicide victims are killed by an intimate partner. Over half of the female homicide victims in the U.S. were killed by a current or former male intimate partner.
Hopefully, the “Kimye” online drama stays just that, and doesn’t escalate any further. But for many out there, like me, things did escalate further. Things did begin with social media taunts and harassment in my situation, and got worse and worse to the point that I found myself sitting before a judge and next to my abuser, locked in a room filled with strangers, guarded by security guards, reliving the worst days of my life in hope that someone would believe me and not them. Those are the kinds of moments I don’t wish on anyone and that have taught me not to see behavior like West’s as innocent.
Next time you find the urge to laugh at victims like Kardashian or sympathize with abusers like West, consider how many loved ones in your life may have suffered from something similar. Don’t like the memes. Don’t post a joking TikTok on your story. Don’t try to spin the harassment into a sympathetic story of mental health struggles. Because Kardashian and West aren’t listening, but I am.