Some domestic violence experts warn that the social media presence of the rapper formerly known as Kanye West, which has become more confrontational toward estranged wife Kim Kardashian and others during the ongoing divorce process, is consistent with signs of abuse.
Ye was temporarily banned this week by Instagram after violating the platform’s policies on hate speech, bullying and harassment.
Ruth Glenn, CEO of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV), noted that Ye’s escalation on social media is typical in patterns of abuse.
“There’s nothing better to exert your control and power than disrupting the world around that person and going after things and people they love and care about,” Glenn said.
“There’s nothing better to exert your control and power than disrupting the world around that person and going after things and people they love and care about.”
ruth glenn, ceo of the national coalition against domestic violence, said.
It is “very disturbing that he is also using a public forum to make these kinds of threats and quite frankly, get away with it," she said.
The rapper did not respond to requests for comment and has not publicly addressed the Instagram ban since it was implemented Wednesday.
Ye’s Instagram was restricted from posting, commenting and sending direct messages for 24 hours. Additional steps will be taken if he continues not to follow Instagram community guidelines, a Meta spokesperson said earlier this week.
Domestic abuse encompasses more than physical violence, said Deborah J. Vagins, president and CEO of the National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV). Emotional abuse can include constant criticism, name-calling, gaslighting, threats, isolating victims from their friends and family, excessive jealousy and monitoring “where you go and who you talk to.”
Ye has objected to Kardashian’s requests for a divorce and has used Instagram to proclaim his devotion to her, criticize her parenting and threaten her current boyfriend Pete Davidson. In a music video for his new song “Easy,” a claymation Ye decapitated a figure resembling Davidson and included the lyric, “God saved me from that crash, just so I could beat Pete Davidson’s ass.”
In court documents filed last month asking the judge to restore her status as a single person, Kardashian wrote that Ye’s Instagram posts have caused “emotional distress.”
Meta spokesperson confirmed that content from Ye’s account was deleted for community guideline violations this week after he used racial slurs in a post about “The Daily Show” host Trevor Noah. Noah defended Kardashian and pointed out the questions some women face when trying to leave an unhealthy relationship.
“What [Kardashian is] going through is terrifying to watch, and it shines a spotlight on what so many women go through when they choose to leave,” Noah said during the segment. “People always say that phrase to women. They go, ‘Why didn’t you leave? ... Because a lot of women realize when they do leave, the guy will get even crazier. And when I say ‘crazy,’ I don’t mean mental health crazy.”
Noah raised concerns that even a woman with power and influence isn't immune from harassment from her ex.
“What we’re seeing ... is one of the most powerful, one of the richest women in the world, unable to get her ex to stop texting her, to stop chasing after her, to stop harassing her,” he continued. “Just think about that for a moment. Think about how powerful Kim Kardashian is, and she couldn’t get that to happen.”
Vagins emphasized that abuse is “pervasive and widespread.” Though she couldn’t comment specifically on Ye and Kardashian’s relationship, she said that abuse affects people “regardless of race, class, gender or orientation.”
Even if someone leaves, many abusers will try to make their ex-partners feel powerless by exerting control over “people in their network," she said.
“Emotional abuse is a way to retain that power of control, and the emotional abuse can make them feel responsible for the abuse,” Vagins said. “Technology abuse and verbal abuse are all as impactful as physical abuse.”
Abusing a loved one is a choice, Glenn said.
“I would consider mental health, I would consider substance use, we would consider other risk factors, but they are not the reason that this behavior is being exhibited,” Glenn said. “This behavior is a choice. Ye's choosing to do this is abuse.”
Some have said that Ye is exhibiting artistic expression in the video and song featuring Davidson's name and likeness.
Vagins said that NNEDV isn’t “in a position to talk about creative expression,” but stood with Meta for enforcing its policies. Penalizing hate speech isn’t the same as censoring art.
“These platforms have codes of conduct to follow so that we don’t normalize this kind of violence toward people,” she said.
Ye’s public treatment of Kardashian and her loved ones isn’t acceptable, Glenn said, but it does shed light on how widespread domestic abuse is.
"My hope is that when these high-profile cases come about ... this nation begins to understand that victims come from all walks of life,” Glenn said. “This is only a microcosm of what’s happening across the country because these cases are high-profile, but victims experience this abuse from people who they care about everywhere.”