2018 has not been a good year for Nicki Minaj. Between the relatively lackluster chart performance and critical reception of her long-awaited album Queen, her various Twitter beefs, the infamous flying shoe incident with Cardi B, and controversy over her loyalties to abusers Tekashi 6ix9ine and her brother Jelani Maraj, Minaj has had three years-worth of drama in one year that has not even ended yet. And if possible to imagine, it only seems to be getting worse.

Minaj’s relationship status has been the subject of much speculation (including on this author’s part) for the past few months, and when we were finally gifted with the debut of her new boo on her Instagram page, I could feel the collective question rising up:

“Who is this dude?”

Her current boyfriend, Kenneth Petty, is a childhood crush of hers, whom she seemed to have developed a romantic bond with over the last few months.

He is also a convicted rapist and murderer.

Kenneth Petty was arrested in 1994 for raping a 16-year-old girl when he was 15 years old. The details of the case are harrowing. In the police report, Petty allegedly brandished a handgun, which he then used to force her into his home. When alone, Petty then squeezed her neck and sides, causing bruising, and then proceeded to have forced sexual intercourse with her. When she tried to escape, he threatened her with a knife. The only way she was able to get away was by throwing a plastic bottle at him.

Petty was caught on 5 charges, including rape and sexual abuse in the first degree. However, by pleading guilty to first degree attempted rape, he served 4 years in prison. He is still listed as a registered sex offender.

In another incident, Petty shot a man named Lamont Robinson to death in 2002 and was arrested on a second-degree murder charge that was later lowered to manslaughter. He pled guilty, sentenced to 10 years of hard time and was paroled after serving seven.

Minaj is evidently more than aware of her new man’s criminal past. When confronted by a fan on Instagram for choosing Petty as a partner given his criminal record, Minaj very much defended her boyfriend and urged her fans to let her live her own life.

The same Nicki Minaj who has made a variety of songs that have empowered and inspired women to take back their sexuality, reclaim their trauma and live their truth, has effectively chosen a sex-offending murderer over the legions of fans who have more than shown how much they love and appreciate her.

The truth in this is that many black men are imprisoned on any number of trumped-up charges. There have been many studies done on the prison-industrial complex and the ways in which black men and women are groomed to go to prison from jump. That legitimately happens. But there are those times in which the justice system at least acknowledges the survivors of abuse, and those who have perpetrated assault and murder, including black people who have done so, go to prison for good reason.

So, it is harmful and potentially triggering for the black girls that follow Nicki Minaj to not only see that this impactful artist is supporting rapists and paedophiles, but always seeming to have an excuse for them instead of calling them out on their harmful actions. Specifically, this is concerning since a good deal of these victims are also black girls.

Minaj’s own personal tendencies toward abuse have been shown in a variety of songs that she has written, including the song 'Right Thru Me' where she exhibits verbally abusive behavior to the person that the song is directed to. And how soon can we forget when her ex-boyfriend, Safaree Samuels, tweeted that he had been chased and injured with a knife by Minaj. She herself has alluded to abuse in her background, discussing her father being highly abusive and, in one harrowing incident, setting fire to her home. Her brother Jelani is a currently jailed sex offender, whom she has also supported. Nicki Minaj has trauma, there is no denial of that fact. But there is much to be said for how she is handling trauma that has been thrust upon her.

As is made clear in any number of Instagram posts about self-care and trauma work, the hurt and residual pain that happens to us is not our fault. However, the means in which we make a point to heal is the true telling of our character. If one heals from harm by causing others harm, then their healing is not truthful and it is also hurting others.

By Nicki Minaj supporting rapists repeatedly and lending them sympathy, she is not pushing forward the message of forgiveness that she thinks that she is. She is instead expressing that what this young woman who was victimized by her partner experienced was somehow not only her fault but that in turn, forgiving these offenders is somehow more important than the acknowledgement of the women and girls that they have harmed.

She may have choice words for whomever is criticizing her decisions, but Nicki Minaj is seeing the full effect of those decisions hit her in the place that hurts the most: her credibility.