These are the words being used to describe Emma Roberts after she was arrested for domestic assault when her boyfriend, American Horror Story star Evan Peters, came out of their heated dispute with a bloody nose: "Sweetheart," "dramatic," "passionate," "in tears," "distraught."
Maybe this wasn't a Chris Brown-level incident — currently, all indications point to this being an escalated fight where both parties got violent, and Peters decided not to press any charges. But why was the media so quick to dismiss Roberts' behavior?
Male celebrities' violent behavior against their female partners is pretty well-documented in the mainstream media. There's cases like Ike and Tina Turner's high-profile, violent relationship, where the media clearly found the blame to be with Ike. There's Chris Brown and Rihanna. Mike Tyson. Tommy Lee. Glen Campbell. Bobby Brown. Then there's smaller instances, like with Josh Brolin and Diane Lane, too. We heard about each and every one of those cases, and generally held the abusers in contempt.
But with Roberts, she's neither blamed nor ignored — there's just a sense of disbelief that she was even violent at all, and a sense of relief when both parties seem to have made up. After all, how could such a sweetheart hit her boyfriend in the first place?
This may seem like a benevolent attitude, but it's harmful for abusers and victims alike, especially if the abuser is female and the victim is male. It makes light of the issue, allowing abusers to avoid coming to terms with their behavior and victims to continue to excuse them. It assumes that women are incapable of violence and that men are never victims of abuse.
What's worse is that the media will never truly know what occurred, so speculating that Roberts and Peters tearfully made up or that this is just an outcome of their passionate relationship will not only harm those who see it that way, it could be totally inaccurate. Violence is never okay in any relationship, regardless of the gender, and portraying Roberts' arrest as a shock or a fluke not only excuses her behavior, but it allows the world to not take this type of domestic violence seriously — both in the news, and when it happens at home.