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  • Writer's pictureRachel Ulatowski

Jonathan Majors' Verdict Reminds Us Why We Always Believe Abuse Survivors

Jonathan Majors posing at the Academy Awards
(Arturo Holmes / Getty)

On December 18, Jonathan Majors was found guilty of reckless assault and harassment stemming from a domestic abuse incident with his former girlfriend, Grace Jabbari. Still, we can't ignore the conversation that preceded the guilty verdict, in which Jabbari was labeled a liar and abuser without proof.

Majors was first arrested on assault and harassment charges in March after police responded to a domestic dispute and witnessed injuries on Jabbari. While awaiting trial, he was dropped from his talent agency and lost many work collaborations. However, many, including Marvel Studios, gave him the benefit of the doubt while the case made its way through the legal system. He even maintained his scenes as Kang the Conqueror in Loki, as Marvel took a "wait and see" approach to his arrest.

Although the studio has raised some eyebrows by waiting for a guilty verdict to drop Majors, one of the foundations of our justice system is that defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty. Unfortunately, while society is quick to exercise the presumption of innocence toward alleged abusers, it is more reluctant to offer the presumption of truth toward survivors of abuse.

Although instances of alleged abuse survivors lying are very rare, it has sadly started to become customary for individuals to rally around alleged abusers in high-profile cases, painting them as victims of false accusations. The highly publicized Amber Heard and Johnny Depp case seemingly set this precedent, as social media users launched a smear campaign against Heard in which they accused her of lying and being an abuser despite there being no proof of these allegations. After this case, Depp followers quickly began attacking Evan Rachel Wood for her abuse allegations against Marilyn Manson. Then, this year, Jabbari became their latest target leading up to Majors' trial.

Why we need to talk about the Majors case

Jonathan Majors as Kang the Conqueror in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania
(Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)

Following Majors' guilty verdict, the majority of his followers fell silent, though there are still a few outliers who continued to insist he is innocent. That silence is odd, considering how vocal they were as recently as December 17, with social media users supporting Majors in a familiar pattern. It didn't matter that prosecutors refused to charge Jabbari over Majors' abuse accusations or that the text messages recanting her allegations were clearly sent out of fear. Social media users continued pointing to these incidents, insisting something wasn't right in this case, that Majors was innocent, and that we'd all owe him the biggest apology after his trial found him innocent.

These supporters started becoming even more aggressive once the trial was underway. They ignored the photos of Jabbari's injuries, text messages of Majors urging her not to seek treatment for injuries in the past, and audio recordings of Majors berating Jabbari and bizarrely calling himself a "great man" comparable to Martin Luther King Jr. and Barack Obama. Instead, users got stuck on a seconds-long snippet of CCTV footage in which Jabbari was seen following Majors after he abruptly walked away from her during their argument. Despite the footage also showing Majors aggressively grabbing and shoving Jabbari into the backseat of a cab, social media users created a whole fictional narrative out of that one clip.

It seemed pretty normal, in such a heated moment, for Jabbari to panic after Majors walked away or to want to get his attention. However, according to social media users, it was definitive proof that she was the abuser because they supposedly had Majors on camera running from her. #JusticeforJonathanMajors has been trending occasionally on both X, formerly Twitter, and TikTok, with the hashtag boasting 84k views on the latter. Scrolling through these hashtags, you'll see countless posts using a few seconds of footage to slam Jabbari, openly calling her a liar and abuser, using misogynist and derogatory language, and lamenting how she ruined Majors' life. Now that it has been proven that Majors is guilty and falsely accused her of abuse, though, that same outrage has mysteriously dissipated.

Majors' guilty verdict and the conversation leading up to it show how easy it is for these cases to become twisted. It proves how easy it is for abusers to feign being the victim and for one fraction of a moment to be taken out of context to turn everyone against a victim. It wasn't just social media fixating on the footage, but Majors' legal team, who mercilessly grilled Jabbari about every single second of that night until she fled the courtroom sobbing. That's the reality that survivors face—having to explain and defend every second and every minuscule action just to be believed. As if this grueling and horrific process isn't enough, they also have to deal with having their reputation destroyed by those who label them liars and abusers.

So, where are all the Majors supporters now? Just days ago, they were directing outrage at Jabbari for lying and abusing Majors. Now that they know Majors abused Jabbari and falsely accused her of abuse, where's all that venom, indignation, and ferocity towards him? Or do they only care about abuse cases when they see it as an opportunity to slander and silence women? Majors' guilty verdict finally called their bluff and proved that they were never these justice warriors or advocates against abuse. Instead, they tried to discredit an abuse survivor and prevent her from receiving a fair trial by making false accusations and trying to sway public opinion. Now that it has been proven their accusations were false and defamatory, they haven't even bothered to apologize or redirect their "support."

This is why we always believe victims unless they are absolutely proven to be lying. No survivor of abuse should also have to face being called a liar, having their reputation tarnished, and seeing their abuser being openly supported by thousands of people. It's unclear when it suddenly became more important to catch that one in a million false accuser before the justice system does than to prevent potentially adding to the pain of abuse of survivors. However, the Majors' case should serve as a wake-up call for society to get their priorities straight and prevent others from going through what Jabbari was put through.

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