Domestic violence has (unfortunately) been in the news a lot lately, and while it’s understandable to be skeptical, it’s NOT OK to blame the victim – whether you believe them or not.

I woke up this morning to find that, once again in far too short a period of time, domestic violence is making headlines. Just a few weeks ago the news broke that Houston artist Just Brittany had accused rapper Z-Ro of physically abusing her for hours, and this week audio was released of the alleged beating. This morning, the news broke that Ezekiel Elliott of the Dallas Cowboys has been suspended for six games on allegations of domestic violence. The Twitter takes have been abundant – and disappointing.

It seems in cases of violence against women, both men and women are so quick to jump to the defense of the man. Cases of theft, slander, or any other crimes are in favor of the celebrity in most other cases, but women are often crucified for lying when it comes to the very serious crimes of rape and domestic violence. While it’s alright to be skeptical when things don’t add up in your head, it’s never OK to call the victim a liar.

In the case of Just Brittany:

I get it. Y’all don’t like the girl. Heck, after her #HTownRapBattle submission and what I’ve seen on Signed, I’m not too fond of her, either. The skepticism is understandable: She waited some months (right before she was to be featured on a TV show) to bring up these allegations so it looks like she wants publicity, several people have said they just saw her and Z-Ro booed up, and you already. don’t. like. her. But here’s the thing: none of us were there. To be “sure” that Just Brittany is lying is impossible. No, I am not saying Z-Ro is guilty, but I am saying that it’s one person’s word against another’s, and that’s always an iffy situation. It’s one thing to say, “This doesn’t add up to me,” but it is an entirely different, horrible, problematic thing to say that she is a liar based off of anything you feel. It is even more horrible to say that, even if it happened, she should have kept quiet in order to not “bring a n*gga down.” Whatever you feel about how incriminating or not incriminating the audio was, you still weren’t there, and it’s just as shameful to call someone a liar about this serious of an accusation as it is to lie about it happening.

In the case of Ezekiel Elliott:

We all know how Dallas Cowboys fans can be. I was raised by one. Cowboys slander of any kind is met with fire and fury. However, that does not make players incapable of horrible acts or immune to the consequences thereof. No, I am not saying he actually did it, either. What I am saying is that the NFL/Dallas Cowboys franchise has made it very clear that they take accusations like these seriously and until they are proven unequivocally false, anyone accused will be punished, which is a really good thing in light of how they’ve (mis)handled numerous other accusations.

The fact of the matter is, your favorite is still human, and just as human as that person you don’t like. Your favorite can do something terrible, and your least favorite can still have something horrible happen to them wrongfully. Historically, people have taken the side of the aggressor, either to say that the accuser should have kept quiet, deserved it, or is lying altogether. A few false accusations haven’t made this any easier on those who are telling the truth, so we need to season our words carefully when we make our comments on these situations.

Unless you were there, the only fact is that you don’t know what happened. Instead of convicting or acquitting people in the court of public opinion, let everyone have their day in court.

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