The Diddy and Cassie video is a distressing watch. Here's how to process it.

Mental health experts give advice on how to process the disturbing Diddy and Cassie footage. (Photos: Paras Griffin via Getty Images; Emma McIntyre/Hollywood Reporter via Getty Images)

Footage of Sean “Diddy” Combs assaulting his ex-girlfriend Cassie Ventura in 2016 was released by CNN on May 17 and has since circulated on other media outlets and across social media platforms. It’s the latest development since Ventura, a singer who dated Combs for a decade before their 2018 split, filed a lawsuit in November accusing the music mogul of physical abuse, rape and sex trafficking. The case was settled two days later, but the conflict hasn’t ended.

The emergence of the surveillance video from a California hotel shows Combs kicking, hitting and dragging Ventura after she left their shared room, actions he has since admitted are “inexcusable.” Given the violent nature of the footage, the video’s release has also fueled debate about whether or not it’s appropriate to watch, with some social media users saying they’ve found it too upsetting.

Experts tell Yahoo Life that it’s important to acknowledge that the video can be emotionally triggering. Here’s what they say about its significance, why it’s sparked powerful conversations about abuse — and how viewers can best process their feelings.

“Images and videos of violence can be deeply distressing for many reasons. They can evoke a visceral reaction, reminding viewers of their own experiences or triggering a strong sense of empathy for the victim,” trauma therapist Becca Reed tells Yahoo Life. “Even those without direct experience of domestic violence can be affected, as such content taps into our fundamental need for safety and security. The shock and horror of witnessing such acts can lead to feelings of helplessness, anxiety and fear, impacting mental and emotional well-being.”

A representative for the National Domestic Violence Hotline adds: “It’s a visceral and visual reminder that intimate partner violence is a real lived experience for many and a public health crisis impacting millions of Americans. We know that 1 in 4 women will experience severe physical violence.”

The emotional response can be heightened when coming across the content unexpectedly on news feeds, often without a trigger warning alerting social media users to the disturbing content. “We need to be comfortable and caring for the people around us … we need to have trigger warnings,” Jennifer Simmons Kaleba, vice president of communications for Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), tells Yahoo Life. “And we need to make sure that the content someone's about to view is something that they are prepared for and ready for, to the best of our ability.”

Holding abusers to account is important, experts agree — but they also acknowledge that not everyone has to view the footage to do so.

“If a person is going to choose not to watch the video of a woman being assaulted as a way to take care of their own mental health, that's OK,” says Kaleba. “As long as we don't look away from it when it happens in front of us. And as long as we don't need to see that video in order to believe the survivor.”

Many commenters have pointed out that the video “evidence” shouldn’t have been necessary for people to believe Ventura’s allegations. “At its core, when we talk about seeing this video come out and what it means now, it underscores what we should have believed from the beginning,” says Kaleba.

“If you're looking at the content, as somebody for whom you know this is going to be triggering — as a survivor, as a loved one of a survivor — take care of yourself,” she continues. “You know that you don't necessarily have to have the video in order to be believed. So carry forth that confidence that you can skip over that content and still believe Cassie’s story.”

However, she says it's important to "not look away from" abuse — especially when we're in a position to do something. RAINN uses the acronym CARE to indicate the necessity to create a distraction, ask direct questions to the individual at risk, rally others for help or refer the individual to authorities and lastly, extend support. “For the people who were there who could have intervened for Cassie, it’s too late. But if you're viewing this content, you might be upset or angry,” says Kaleba.

Natalie Rosado, a licensed mental health counselor and expert at Sanity & Self, a self-care platform for women, recommends people take the following steps if they anticipate or experience an emotional reaction around this type of footage:

  • Recognize triggers. "Being aware of one's emotional and psychological triggers is crucial," says Rosado. "If you know that witnessing violence or abuse triggers distressing emotions or memories, you can make informed decisions about whether to engage with such content, especially on one's social media feed."

  • Set boundaries. She also encourages setting boundaries around the type of content you consume. "You can unfollow or mute accounts that frequently share triggering content or use content filters to minimize exposure to sensitive material," she says.

  • Practice self-care. "Mindfulness practices, physical exercise, spending time with supportive friends or family or engaging in hobbies that bring joy and peace" are some activities that Rosado recommends to promote emotional well-being and self-soothing after encountering triggering content.

  • Seek support. "If you find yourself deeply affected by witnessing domestic violence or if it triggers distressing emotions or memories, you should not hesitate to seek support from a mental health professional and/or a trusted friend or family member," she says. "Processing your emotions in a safe and supportive environment can be invaluable in coping with the impact of such content."

If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, help is available. RAINN’s National Sexual Assault Hotline is here for survivors 24/7 with free, anonymous help. 800.656.HOPE (4673) and

For anyone affected by abuse and needing support, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233, or if you're unable to speak safely, you can log onto or text LOVEIS to 22522.