Kanye West has been accused of “celebrating an abusive relationship” in his Valentine’s Day tribute to his wife, Kim Kardashian.
On 14 February, Kanye West finally returned to Instagram after a nine-month hiatus.
His first post featured a handmade – and very minimalist – Valentine’s Day card, addressed to his “babe” (presumably referring to his wife, Kim Kardashian).
The rapper then went on to flood the platform with a series of photo tributes to famous couples, including Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, Princess Diana and Prince Charles, Cindy Crawford and Richard Gere, Aaliyah and Tupac and many more.
He ended the stream with two photos of himself and Kardashian, captioning it simply as ‘Kimye’.
However, some fans have criticised West’s inclusion of Madonna and Sean Penn in his tribute.
“Celebrating an abusive relationship?” wrote one. “Disgusting.”
“Ummmmmm no,” added another. “He literally kidnapped and beat the s**t out of her.”
A third person raged: “Kanye, what the f**k? He was so abusive to her.”
They are, of course, referring to the fact that Penn was famously accused of two separate offences against his then-girlfriend, Madonna: striking her with a baseball bat in 1987 and then tying her up and beating her in 1989.
“When she told him she was leaving the house, he tried to bind her hands with an electric lamp and cord,” it was widely reported at the time.
“Screaming and afraid, Madonna fled from the bedroom. What followed was a nine-hour ordeal which left her deeply shaken. Penn chased her into the living room, caught her and bound her to a chair with heavy twine. Then he threatened to cut off her hair.”
Like a Prayer, Madonna’s fourth studio album, famously explored her crumbling relationship with Penn, whom she divorced while recording it.
The song Til Death Do Us Part was, in particular, considered by many to be confirmation of the abuse rumours, as the lyrics included the lines: “I think I interrupt your life. When you laugh it cuts me just like a knife. I’m not your friend, I’m just your little wife.
“They never laugh, not like before. She takes the keys, he breaks the door. She cannot stay here anymore. He’s not in love with her anymore…He takes a drink, she goes inside. He starts to scream, the vases fly. He wishes that she wouldn’t cry. He’s not in love with her anymore.”
However, in court documents filed in 2015, Madonna claimed that, while her relationship with the actor was famously turbulent, Penn never went as far as hitting her.
“I am aware of the allegations that have surfaced over the years accusing Sean of incidents of physical assault and abuse against me,” Madonna testified in the amended complaint, as reported by The Daily Beast.
“Specifically, I am aware of the allegations concerning an alleged incident that occurred in June, 1987, whereby (according to tabloid reports), Sean allegedly struck me with ‘a baseball bat.’ I know the allegations in those and other reports to be completely outrageous, malicious, reckless, and false.”
She continued: “I am also aware of allegations concerning an incident that occurred in December, 1989, which purportedly resulted in Sean’s arrest for domestic assault and battery against me. I know those allegations to be false.
“While we certainly had more than one heated argument during our marriage, Sean has never struck me, ‘tied me up,’ or physically assaulted me, and any report to the contrary is completely outrageous, malicious, reckless, and false.”
While Penn has never been arrested, much less convicted, for domestic violence, he was arrested for assaulting a photographer on a film set.
The actor was sentenced to 60 days in jail in mid-1987, of which he served 33 days.
Of course, a relationship does not have to turn violent to be deemed abusive: abusers also use fear, guilt, shame, and intimidation to wear their victim down and keep them under his or her thumb.
For this reason, it can be difficult for many people trapped in toxic and abusive relationships to spot the warning signs.
These may include (but are not limited to) the following:
• Your partner constantly criticises, humiliates or belittles you
• Your partner checks up on you or follows you
• Your partner tries to keep you from seeing your friends or family
• Your partner has prevented you or made it hard for you to continue studying or going to work
• Your partner unjustly accuses you of flirting or having affairs with others
• Your partner has forced you to do something that you really did not want to do
• Your partner has deliberately destroyed any of your possessions
• You have changed your behaviour because you are afraid of what your partner might do or say to you
• Your partner controls your finances
• Your partner talks down to you
• Your partner has strong opinions on what you should wear and your appearance
• Your partner has tried to prevent you from leaving your house
• Your partner has forced you or harassed you into performing a sexual act
• Your partner has threatened to reveal or publish private information
• Your partner threatens to hurt him or herself if you leave them
• Your partner witholds medication from you
• Your partner makes you feel guilty all the time
• Your partner blames you for their bad moods and outbursts
• You are afraid of your partner
If you are worried that you might be the victim of emotional abuse, it’s quite likely that you are. If these signs of an abusive relationship sound all too familiar to you, then get out of that situation as soon as possible.
Visit womensaid.org.uk or call 0808-2000 247 for more information about coercive control, domestic abuse, and the help available for those affected.
Images: Rex Features