The Grammys did its very best to make a statement about violence against women yesterday. Domestic violence victim Brooke Axtell told her heartbreaking story, Katy Perry sang a very heartfelt rendition of By The Grace Of God and a pre-recorded message from President Obama was played to the audience.
Before Katy sang, Brooke performed a spoken word piece about her own abuse history.
"My name is Brooke Axtell and I am a survivor of domestic violence.
After a year of passionate romance with a handsome, charismatic man, I was stunned when he began to abuse me.
I believed he was lashing out because he was in pain, and needed help.
I believed my compassion could restore him and our relationship.
My empathy was used against me.
I was terrified of him and ashamed I was in this position.
What bound me to him was my desire to heal him.
My compassion was incomplete because it did not include me.
When he threatened to kill me, I knew I had to escape.
I revealed the truth to my mom and she encouraged me to seek help at a local domestic violence shelter.
This conversation saved my life.
Authentic love does not devalue another human being.
Authentic love does not silence, shame, or abuse.
If you are in a relationship with someone who does not honor or respect you, I want you to know that you are worthy of love.
Please reach out for help.
Your voice will save you.
Let it extend into the night.
Let it part the darkness.
Let it set you free to know who you truly are: valuable, beautiful, loved.”
Introduced by President Obama, Brooke and Katy’s collaboration was a touching reminder that when it comes to combating domestic violence #itsonus.
Sounds like a good message, right? And while the message itself was well-received overall it was equally criticised for its placement in a show that celebrates known offenders – namely Chris Brown and R. Kelly.
"But Chris Brown and R Kelly. Are both nominated tonight...." tweeted Bad Feminist author Roxane Gay. "That is to say important and necessary message but as with similar NFL messages, heal thyself first."
Pitchfork editor Jessica Hopper added, "Yeah, good job standing up to rape and domestic violence, Grammys, R. Kelly and Chris Brown noms really showed where it's at."
After the show Brooke said that both she and Katy were honoured by the opportunity to address the issue in front of such a large audience.
“We’re at a stage in the movement for social justice where we are in desperate need of having male allies, and that means confronting within our own communities when violence occurs and making sure there are interventions for those who have abused and been abused,” she said.
She noted she was aware both Rihanna and Chris Brown were in the audience when she spoke. Neil Portnow, the recording academy’s president, said neither Rihanna nor Brown was consulted before the segment aired.