I’ve always believed that one of the most important decisions you make is choosing your partner. When you step back and look at it, your choice of significant other can affect many aspects of your life. The right or wrong person influences the way we move in the world. They can either bring us up or bring us down. In Cassie’s case, her relationship with Diddy came at a cost.

Cassandra Ventura, who goes by the stage name Cassie, filed a lawsuit against her former partner. In it, she alleged that she was subjected to rape, abuse, and forced to take drugs. As soon as the news broke, the internet became divided. 

Some people supported her. Some people didn’t. Many asked why she hadn’t said anything sooner. As someone who was in a toxic relationship, I can say it isn’t that easy.

There is a lot of shame that comes with being in a toxic relationship that people internalize so they can present a brave face to the world

I am not claiming I lived a similar experience to that of Cassie with Diddy. But I understand being at the proverbial hands of someone who can be unnecessarily cruel. Cassie was plucked at the ripe age of 19 into a relationship with a then-37-year-old man.

Growing up, women are somehow taught to believe that the gaze of an older man makes us mature. I remember a middle school classmate dating someone who was in high school. Many of us understood that maybe she shouldn’t. That being said, some still applauded her for finding someone “mature.”

As an industry juggernaut, it’s understandable why Cassie felt the need to be close to Diddy so early in her career. You don’t know what you don’t know, especially at 19. I believe that no one will ever honestly know what happened between the two of them. No one will know Cassie’s humiliation or the depths she was brought to. 

This picture of me at Machu Picchu was taken in the thick of my relationship. Can you tell that I was unhappy? Can you tell that I had no self-esteem? If you think you can, you’re wrong. No one around me could see the deeply depressive state of my being. I was good at hiding it because I didn’t want any questions. I knew I would unravel.

When you’re in the thick of a toxic relationship, you begin to lose your sense of self

Chances are, like me, she probably didn’t recognize herself throughout that relationship. You see things happening and firmly believe there’s nothing you can do to stop it. I was told point blank that I was being manipulated. And when I told him I wouldn’t do that to him, he said, “Well, that’s your problem, not mine.”

That relationship ended over five years ago, and there are still things I am unpacking today. No great city was built in a day. It takes nine months to cook inside your mamá’s belly. So why do people think that unpacking your experience after a toxic relationship is fast?

I can’t count how many people would look at me like, “Not this again,” the few times I’d even venture to talk about something that happened to me. This added to my shame. I blamed myself for allowing any of it to happen. It took me a while to find a precarious balance where I understood that much of what happened wasn’t on me.

When there’s an uneven power dynamic in a relationship, the more “submissive” person pays the price

It wasn’t until the relationship ended that people began to learn how gravely wrong things had been. Until then, I internalized it all. I self-isolated. I swallowed it all because it was my problem to handle. Why would I burden anyone else with it?

When you attempt to go toe-to-toe with someone who can be classified as a narcissist, you eventually pay the piper. After ending her relationship with Diddy, Cassie was married. Then, she welcomed two beautiful children. That hasn’t been the case for me.

I knew I had to unpack much. But I convinced myself that this was something I had to do on my own. That I couldn’t ask for help. Thankfully for Cassie, she had the support of her mom and others. 

It’s not that I didn’t. It’s that the shame I felt kept me from thinking I deserved to ask for help. Deep down, I felt undeserving of help because I was feeling guilty. I also felt like a broken record, and reliving everything with every conversation was difficult.


People will judge your healing regardless of what it looks like, so I’ve learned to do what feels right anyway

Some folks will judge you regardless of what you do — which is what happened to Cassie when she filed her lawsuit. Many of the comments I saw questioned the fact that she was asking for so much money.

What people don’t understand is that when the figurative power lies outside of you, you give up a lot more than you realize. For Cassie, that was her career (and who knows what else). For me, I gave up my sense of autonomy and self-esteem. 

My belief was that I wasn’t capable of much. I questioned how lovable I was. I see her lawsuit as her chance to take her power back, power she had stolen when she was 19.

For me, taking my power back meant going to therapy. I never was a believer in talking to an ex for closure. In my mind, closure is how you heal yourself. Cassie took a major leap, and I’m proud of her for it.