Dr. Dre's apology: It's a small token but often a huge victory for survivors to hear abusers own up.

And the Internet is turning into quite a tool to make sure history isn't rewritten by those with power and money.

Victims left out of an abuser's movie — honest mistake or convenient sleight of hand?

"Straight Outta Compton," the blockbuster film chronicling the rise and fall of hip-hop group N.W.A is an important cultural touchpoint for its depiction of several really important themes: police brutality, race, youth culture, and the role of art in protest to name a few.

But when the movie, produced by N.W.A founding members Ice Cube and Dr. Dre, was released, there were significant players in the story whose roles were conveniently left out. Dee Barnes, a journalist who Dr. Dre beat up in a nightclub, wrote that some reference to the occurrence would have been appropriate.


And when asked why she wasn't represented in the film, Dr. Dre's ex-fiancee Michel'le and former record labelmate said:

"But why would Dre put me in it? ... I was just a quiet girlfriend who got beat up and told to sit down and shut up."

It turns out, Dr. Dre's violent past was omitted entirely, and the Internet wasn't going to let it slide. The story blew up big time.

Image from Death Row Records.

Maybe recent backlash has taught abusers some lessons on how to deal with their crimes publicly.

In what seems to be a savvy PR move cribbed from seeing just how off-the-rails avoidance and denial can go for others (see Bill Cosby), Dr. Dre has issued an official apology. As told to The New York Times today:

"Twenty-five years ago I was a young man drinking too much and in over my head with no real structure in my life. However, none of this is an excuse for what I did. I've been married for 19 years and every day I'm working to be a better man for my family, seeking guidance along the way. I'm doing everything I can so I never resemble that man again. I apologize to the women I've hurt. I deeply regret what I did and know that it has forever impacted all of our lives."

An apology is not a criminal conviction or compensation for years of pain and suffering, but it's also not nothing.

Image by Leyram Odacrem/Flickr.

One of the things to understand about abuse victims who never hear an acknowledgment or apology from their abusers is that it can be a form of gaslighting. It leaves the survivor to not only wrestle with the physical and emotional wounds from what they experienced, but to also reconcile conflicting accounts from the abuser and outsiders with what they experienced firsthand. When an abuser is twisting what occurred and the public (or friends and family, for those who aren't famous) seems to be buying it or just letting them move on, it can mess with a survivor's sense of reality and ultimately, their trust in their own perceptions.

The lack of an apology can leave a survivor without official closure. As Dee Barnes said in her piece on Gawker, it's not that she's holding on to the past but that the past is holding on to her. In her case, she means physically as well as emotionally, in the form of recurring pain. But that statement can be applied for abuse victims in numerous forms. Without official closure, a survivor must learn to be at peace with an unresolved part of their past.

Seeing an abuser finally own up to what they did and be held accountable in the eyes of the public can be an important step toward healing and a powerful way to shine light on the truth of abuse for all to see.

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