By now, you’ve probably heard that Jonathan Majors was arrested over the weekend. The Marvel actor was charged with strangulation, assault, and harassment in New York on Saturday in what law enforcement officials are calling a “domestic dispute.”
Majors’ meteoric rise in Hollywood has won him both detractors and fans, and both groups will likely be coming out in full force over the next few days— although it’s hard to tell on which side ).
Any story involving a well-known celebrity and allegations of abuse is going to get complicated, so in an effort to help you cut through the noise, here’s what’s worth paying attention to in the Jonathan Majors scandal.
So far, we haven’t heard from Majors’ alleged victim, and it’s entirely possible we never will. But it’s worth talking about the underlying allegations.
According to reporting from the Los Angeles Times , the NYPD responded to a call from a Manhattan apartment at 11:14 a.m . Once they arrived on the scene, police say a 30-year-old woman told them she’d been assaulted. She was then taken to the hospital and treated for minor injuries to her head and neck. Majors was eventually released , but he was charged with strangulation, harassment, and assault.
The fact that she reported the alleged incident at all is worth noting. Although domestic violence is pervasive, nearly half of all survivors never report their abuse to law enforcement (for a whole host of reasons that are only amplified in a case involving a celebrity).
There is still a lot we don’t know about the incident and it could be a while before we get more information. Majors isn’t scheduled to return to court until May 8th, but if it’s true that he strangled her, it’s a serious cause for concern.
Strangulation is one of the most lethal and unpredictable forms of domestic violence. It only takes minutes for strangulation to potentially lead to death. And strangulation victims have been known to pass away weeks after being strangled due to brain damage.
It is also a major predictor of whether domestic abuse will become lethal. According to the domestic violence hotline, “If your partner has strangled you in the past, your risk of being killed by them is ten times higher. ”
It didn’t take his team long to hit back against the allegations.
On Sunday, Priya Chaudhry, a lawyer representing Majors,
the LA Times
that the woman had recanted her story and that video evidence of the alleged incident inside Majors’ car would exonerate him. (So far, his team has not released the video or provided evidence that the woman has recanted.)
“Jonathan Majors is completely innocent and is provably
of an altercation with a woman he knows. We are quickly gathering and presenting evidence to the district attorney with the expectation that all charges will be dropped imminently,”
said Chaudhry in a statement to the
Unlike the film studios backing Majors, t he United States Army has responded to the allegations. The Army’s marketing team said that they were “deeply concerned by the allegations.”
They announced that they were pulling all advertisements featuring Majors. However, they added that he was still innocent until proven guilty.
This isn’t the first time Majors has found himself embroiled in controversy. Although, the reasons for the two firestorms could not be more different.
In February, Majors did a shoot with Ebony magazine where he dressed in pink and was photographed plucking rose petals . The toxic side of the internet blew up, claiming the shoot was “emasculating” and proof of the “continued denigration of the black man.”
Majors, however, didn’t back down. In an interview addressing the comments , he discussed his definition of masculinity, including “strength and vulnerability.”
“Since the internet is a hellscape with very little respect for women, it didn’t take long for a lot of men to show their true colors. The same men who were just questioning Majors’ masculinity and using homophobic slurs against him are now his biggest fans and offering him full-throated support. So when he was just an actor who was comfortable expressing himself in a non-traditionally masculine way, you guys hated him. But allegedly assaulting a woman proves his manhood, so now he’s good?”
As dumb as the criticism of Majors has been in the past on social media, it is worth paying some attention to what people are saying now. After the news of Majors’ arrest was announced on Saturday, people began to post their own stories about his alleged past bad behavior.
“I’m just gonna say this about Jonathan Majors and be done with it: folks at Yale and the broader NYC community have known about him for years,” wrote Broadway director Tim Nicolai . “He’s a sociopath and abuser, and that is how virtually everyone speaks about him. It’s a shame it took this long for him to be reported.”
The tweet was later deleted. But this wasn’t the first time people had hinted about Majors’ past. Filmmaker A.B. Allen tweeted out in February that :
“There’s a particular actor, relatively new on the scene, who Twitter has violently fallen head over heels for who, in actuality, is a vicious, cruel, abusive human being, both professionally and in his personal life, and every new viral thirst tweet about him drives me insane.”
On Saturday, he admitted that the tweet was about Majors. At this point, the allegations from Allen and Nicolai aren’t corroborated. And both of them have deleted their tweets referencing Majors.
One crucial thing to remember is that we may never have definitive proof one way or the other. Survivors of domestic violence have very good reasons not to want to cooperate with law enforcement or share their stories publicly.
When you add that Majors is rich and powerful, it’s not hard to imagine this case ending in a plea or a settlement. (Although an accuser cannot independently drop domestic violence charges in New York State.)
The public may never get a “satisfying” answer to what happened on Saturday night, which means we should brace ourselves for some genuinely awful takes over the next few weeks.
If you or anyone you know is experiencing abuse, you can contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline for help on their website , by calling 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or by texting “START” to 88788.