How Jonathan Majors used his post-conviction interview to ‘attack the victim’

Domestic violence expert says Majors turned to ‘classic defense’ to seek sympathy

How Jonathan Majors used his post-conviction interview to ‘attack the victim’

Jonathan Majors arrives with Meagan Good for the jury selection in his assault and harassment case in New York in December. Photograph: Shannon Stapleton/Reuters


Andrew Lawrence

Just weeks after receiving a guilty verdict in the misdemeanor assault and harassment trial involving his ex-girlfriend, Jonathan Majors is still denying the charges. Asked whether he accepted the conviction for third-degree reckless assault, which carries a penalty of up to a year behind bars, Majors told Good Morning America: “I was reckless with her heart, not with her body.”

In the 34-year-old former Marvel actor’s first interview since his physical altercation with the British dancer Grace Jabbari last March, he wiped away tears and choked back emotion. Nicole Bedera, a sociologist who studies sexual violence, said the conversation featured hallmark tactics of Darvo, an acronym for deny, attack, and reverse victim and offender. “He’s denying the reality that’s being put in front of him and attacking the victim by suggesting that she’s the one who’s actually mistreating him,” says Bedera. “It’s the classic defense of men who have behaved badly and are looking for empathy.”

Facing Linsey Davis of ABC News, Majors sat back and answered easy questions without receiving any pushback. “I don’t really think anyone who works in the media has adequate training to outsmart an abuser,” Bedera says. “And yet these really high-profile TV journalists are hoping that they’ll get that gotcha moment that Gayle King did with R Kelly.”

It’s the classic defense of men who have behaved badly and are looking for empathy
Sociologist Nicole Bedera

Davis never got that moment with Majors, at least in the clips that were shown on Monday. For the most part she let the actor run the show, allowing him to characterize his decision to sit down with her as him “being brave and giving my side of the story”. She also failed to interrogate key pieces of the saga, not least his texts apparently advising Jabbari not to go to the hospital to treat a head injury in an earlier incident.

Instead, Davis allowed Majors to relay his shock that anyone could believe him capable of hurting Jabbari; this, despite his being found guilty by a jury that was presented with photographic evidence of Jabbari’s cut ear and fractured finger, and Jabbari testifying to Majors hitting her in the face and twisting her arm. Police discovered Jabbari unconscious on the closet floor of the apartment she shared with Majors in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood after the actor called 911.

When Davis asked Majors how Jabbari was injured, he said: “I wish to God I knew. That would give clarity. That would give me some type of peace about it.” He changes the subject to the injuries he suffered – a fingernail scratch on his arm and a small gash to his cheek “that bled overnight”. Majors even submitted a photo of his bloody pillow, evidence that was disallowed at his trial.

In the early morning hours of 25 March, Majors and Jabbari got into a physical altercation while being chauffeured in the back of an SUV. The altercation in Chelsea was reported to have started when the actor received a suggestive text from another woman and a struggle for the phone erupted. What happened next was caught on CCTV: Majors exited the vehicle in mid-traffic, Jabbari followed him out, and he picked her up and shoved her back in the car (the moment many legal experts say sealed his misdemeanor reckless abuse conviction). Their tense exchange continued on a street corner before Majors broke away from Jabbari and fled on foot for blocks while Jabbari gave chase.

Majors attempted to explain the CCTV footage of him running away from Jabbari by saying he was in danger unless he got away. “If you watch all the videos and you reverse that, and you see a Black man chasing a young white girl down the street screaming and crying, that man is going to be shot and killed in the streets of New York City,” he said.

Majors also blamed Jabbari for triggering his own childhood traumas and thoughts of suicide. He heaped praise on his new girlfriend, the actor Meagan Good, who was by his side at trial and for the GMA interview. He likens Good to Coretta Scott King, the same civil rights icon he once castigated Jabbari (who is white) for not being enough like.

“In a lot of these PR campaigns, what you’ll actually see is an appeal to convince liberal audiences that violence is OK, and it’s actually an act of social justice to allow the perpetrator to remain in a position of power,” Bedera says. “He makes this really strong connection to the history of lynching Black men, but he brings it up for his own gain.”

It wasn’t until the very end of the interview that Majors, who is appealing the verdict, hinted at why he was giving interviews at all. Asked whether he expected to work in Hollywood again, he said, with quiet confidence, “Yeah, yeah, I do” before striking a more demure tone. “I pray I do. But it’s God’s plan and God’s timing.” Majors was fired by Marvel Studios after the guilty verdict, and the independent film Magazine Dreams that he starred in has been removed from release schedules. He has been dropped by his management and PR team and pulled from recruitment ads for the US army.

GMA was a notable choice for Majors’ interview. The ABC show is owned by Disney, which also owns Marvel. More from the interview will be shown on other Disney properties – ABC News and Hulu. Many industry experts feel the company gave him a platform to downplay his assault conviction and are now waiting to see how the public reacts. “One of the risks of these types of interviews is it can lead people to readjudicate a crime that has already been adjudicated, and with less care and caution than would take place for people who really do have access to evaluate all the evidence firsthand,” says Bedera. “Rape and domestic violence apologists will say we need to wait to pass judgment until the criminal courts make their decision. But even after the decision was made, in this case, the goalpost is moving again. Now it’s: the conviction isn’t enough.”



You did not use the site, Click here to remain logged. Timeout: 60 second