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Sean Combs Traumatized Me

Singer-songwriter Tiffany Red has penned an open letter to Sean Combs to corroborate the claims of abuse singer Casandra “Cassie” Ventura leveled against the hip-hop mogul in her bombshell abuse lawsuit. Filed in November and settled within a day, Ventura alleged Combs controlled and isolated her, would routinely beat her, and forced her to engage in sexual acts with other men during their years-long relationship. Throughout the filing, Ventura referred to numerous friends, assistants, security guards and Bad Boy Entertainment employees who allegedly bore witness to some of the abuse.

Although Combs said the lawsuit was “riddled with baseless and outrageous lies, aiming to tarnish Mr. Combs’s reputation and seeking a payday,” Red says she was present the night of Ventura’s 29th birthday party in August 2015 where Ventura alleged Combs and his security guards “cornered” and “forced” her to leave because Combs wanted her to participate in sexual activity with other men.

Red — a Grammy-winning singer-songwriter who has written songs for Zendaya, Joe Jonas, Jason Derulo and Tamar Braxton, among others — remains a close friend of Ventura‘s, first meeting while working on the singer’s never-released second album. On the night of Ventura‘s party, Red recalls feeling helpless and scared as she watched Combs scream and curse at Ventura. Red says she attempted to intercede on Ventura‘s behalf when an “intoxicated” and furious Combs demanded Ventura leave with him. She says she was later “disturbed to [the] core” when she says she learned what took place when Combs drove off with Ventura into the night.

A representative for Combs referred to a previous statement when contacted by Rolling Stone with a detailed list of questions for comment. “Enough is enough,” Combs wrote. “For the last couple of weeks, I have sat silently and watched people try to assassinate my character, destroy my reputation and my legacy. Sickening allegations have been made against me by individuals looking for a quick payday.Let me be absolutely clear: I did not do any of the awful things being alleged. I will fight for my name, my family and for the truth.”

For years, Red has silently supported her friend and even became her manager when Ventura sought to revitalize her career and free herself of Combs professionally in 2019 — only for Ventura to learn that her termination deal hinged on a non-disparagement clause. Now, Red is coming forward to tell of the trauma of bearing witness to that night and share her hopes that others will be unburdened in their stories.

Dear Sean Combs,

I’m stepping forward to recount my experience as a witness to events detailed in my friend Casandra Ventura’s now-settled civil lawsuit against you. I’m breaking my silence, freeing myself from haunting recollections, standing in solidarity with Cassie, and standing up for myself.  I fear for my safety as her suit alludes to me, although not by name. I hope that revealing my identity to the public will afford me some measure of protection

Cassie and I became friends in 2015 while co-writing songs for her album that you never released. We remain close to this very day. I’m one of the friends mentioned in her lawsuit, specifically from the night of her 29th birthday, as detailed in the section labeled “Mr. Combs Forces Ms. Ventura Into Sex Trafficking.” 

The weight is heavy as I gather my thoughts to articulate these distressing memories. Physical reactions — the surge of heat on my face, sweaty palms, racing heart, and the onset of a panic attack — serve as stark reminders of the toll it’s taking. I am traumatized by you. The burden of vocalizing these experiences should never have been mine or anyone else’s.

“I am traumatized by you. The burden of vocalizing these experiences should never have been mine or anyone else’s.”

I first met you in person in August 2015 at a surprise party you threw for Cassie’s 29th birthday at a hotel in Los Angeles. I was at her old apartment before the party with friends in the Wilshire Corridor Condos, right down the street from your home. Rushed by calls from your team about her ETA, we were in a frenzy to get her ready without spoiling the surprise. We all piled into a black car service from her place to the party.

We arrived at the area reserved for her party at the hotel, and you popped out singing “Happy Birthday.” There were many friends, a few famous faces, and cameras recording as we sang. She was definitely surprised. 

Eventually, we all started to mingle around the room. Up until that point, I’d only spoken to you once before on FaceTime with Cassie about songs we were working on together. You approached me and introduced yourself, saying, “So you’re the one writing all these songs about me?” I said yes, and you stared back and said, “That means she’s talking to you, huh?” I was uncomfortable because it seemed like you were talking about the more turbulent parts of your relationship. 

We did a song called “Loyal” that you didn’t like. We were writing about her pain. In the first verse of that song, she sings, “I don’t know what is real, I just know how I feel, and you keep acting like you don’t know what you did wrong, trying to get me to chill. Since we ain’t been together, I been on some whatever.” She was pushing back in that song. You later came back up to me and said you were playing. I didn’t believe you. One of your security guards did something similar. I’d never met him before, either. He approached me and said, “I heard a lot about you, Tiffany.” You both creeped me out, and this interaction was super intimidating. It felt like you both wanted me to know that you knew who I was and you didn’t like how close I was to her.

Later that evening, after being at the party since it started that afternoon, Cassie wanted to go to a karaoke spot called Blind Dragon on Sunset Blvd. with some friends. You were not happy that she was leaving. I remember your people hovering around us, trying to discourage Cassie from leaving, but we went anyway. You followed us and arrived just a little bit after we did. It was instantly uncomfortable. You pulled Cassie out of the private karaoke room; she put her head down and went with you. I followed to see if she was okay because something was off. When I walked out of the room, you had her backed into a corner in the hallway outside of the door, and your security surrounded you two as you cursed her out with your hands in her face. She and I briefly made eye contact. I felt helpless. She looked afraid and kept looking down at the floor. I didn’t know what to do. I was scared.

Tiffany Red and Cassie

Courtesy of Tiffany Red

Karaoke was cut short because you wanted her to leave with you. Cassie asked me and two other friends if we’d meet her back at her place and stay the night. She was stopping at her house first to grab a bag and then going with you. I said yes because I was worried you would hurt her. Prior to this incident, she had confided in me that you were physically abusive, and the way you were in her face that night was alarming to me. I didn’t want to leave her alone.

When we got back to her house, she kept saying to us she didn’t want to go with you, but you were already on your way to pick her up. One of our friends was packing an overnight bag for her. I’ll never forget it; it was the biggest Birkin bag I’d ever seen. It was blue. I kept asking why they were packing her stuff if she clearly said she didn’t want to go with you, and this person said, “She always goes.” You arrived at the door and whisked her away. Cassie looked uneasy. I didn’t know where you were taking her. Once you left, the person who packed the bag said, “They’ll be back; watch.” It was almost like they had seen this movie before.

A few hours later, I was woken up by you screaming, “Emotional singing bitch, where are you?!” You and Cassie were back, it was around 3 or 4 a.m. When I walked out of her bedroom where I was asleep, you yelled, “Emotional singing bitch, there you are.” I was mortified, humiliated, and scared when I realized you were talking to me. You were visibly intoxicated, and so was Cassie. She appeared sedated and very withdrawn. It was the first time I saw her this way. You started screaming at us, “Tell your girl she wants some birthday dick. I flew all the way from Miami. She gone get this birthday dick!” You were visibly angry that she didn’t want that from you. I was terrified; I said, “She doesn’t have to have sex with you if she doesn’t want to.” You just kept screaming, “She gone get this dick.” All I kept thinking about was how, before you came to get her and she was sober, she kept telling us she didn’t want to go with you.

 “Your abuse of power has inflicted ongoing harm on countless individuals, including myself, my friends, and my peers.”

You two left her place in chaos on a golf cart and drove off into the night. We watched you from her balcony, driving towards your house. I thought you were going to get pulled over and go to jail or crash from being so high. It was like a real-life scary movie. I was terrified for Cassie and completely traumatized. She later told me you made her have a “Freak Off” — which Cassie described in her lawsuit as an “arrangement” where you would make her perform sexual acts with male sex workers — that night. The reason you called me “emotional singing bitch” was because you were listening to new songs we wrote during the “Freak Off” that had begun after you came to get her earlier that night. I am disturbed to my core by this. It makes me think it must have been songs Cassie hadn’t recorded yet that were still demos. I can’t begin to explain how it makes me feel thinking about my voice playing in the background of that nightmare. 

Throughout my time knowing Cassie, I’ve seen many concerning instances. There were occasions when I heard you yelling at her and making threats, observed her so high I was afraid of her overdosing at a party you threw for her in Malibu, and witnessed both of you getting IVs after a different night of partying. Additionally, when I was part of her management team in 2019 — a year after she was able to leave you — I saw you try to silence her by attempting to tie a non-disparagement clause to her record deal termination agreement, which felt unjust.

With Cassie bravely sharing her story, I’m finally free to share mine. That night of her birthday, and so many others, are burned in my brain and have tormented me since. I feel compelled to show up for Cassie and myself and confirm that everything she described in her complaint about what happened that night is consistent with what I experienced. Cassie and I became close while writing songs together nearly a decade ago. One of our friends used to call us “TiffAndra.” Never could I have imagined this is how it would turn out. The music I helped create for her suffered due to these events, compounding the trauma. It’s devastating. I still mourn that time in my songwriting career.

“The power imbalance makes it nearly impossible to fight back and terrifying to speak up. But despite that, here I am, standing beside my friend.”

I continue to work through the PTSD, paranoia, and anxiety from these events. It’s one of the catalysts for my advocacy for music creatives today with my organization, The 100 Percenters. Your abuse of power has inflicted ongoing harm on countless individuals, including myself, my friends, and my peers. You are a literal pillar in Black music. So many of us looked up to you. This moment hurts for us, too, but no one deserves to endure all this, Puff. It’s not right. You’re hurting the very Black and brown people you say you love and support. It pains me to write this letter to you as a Black woman, but when will this cycle of abuse stop? It has to stop. 

Recent events, such as the unveiling of accusations against numerous former record label CEOs and artists for sexual assault due to the Adult Survivors Act in New York, underscore the gravity of the situation. The systemic issues of rape culture and misogyny deeply entrenched in the music industry pose a real threat to so many people’s safety every day in this business. How can we expect meaningful change when senior leadership and superstars face accusations of these crimes? 

The power imbalance makes it nearly impossible to fight back and terrifying to speak up. But despite that, here I am, standing beside my friend. There are moments in life when some of us have to face the hard choice of speaking truth to power or not. This is one of those moments.

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