Two women who accuse the British hip-hop star Rodney P of domestic abuse have told the Guardian they want to speak out, after living with trauma for years.
Former girlfriend Myvanwy Evans told the Guardian the rapper, whose real name is Rodney Panton Edwards, first attacked her at the end of 2007, six months into their relationship, after finding out she had slept with someone in her past, and not told him.
Edwards strongly denies her claims but the former BBC 1Xtra presenter admitted to assaulting a different ex-girlfriend and hospitalising another woman after Evans accused him of domestic abuse on social media.
She said he physically abused her on ‘many occasions’. Describing the first alleged attack, she said: “He grabbed my upper arms, shaking me, throwing me against walls, on to the floor and against furniture. I was just flying, like I was a rag doll, like I was worth nothing.
“There would be times I would be running trying to get away from him, into different rooms, and he would just be swearing at me and threatening me, calling me a fucking bitch, and I was just cowering,” she said.
“One time he threatened me with an empty wine bottle to my face, shouting: ‘You fucking bitch, I’ll kill you.’ I thought I was going to die that night,” she said. “Because of his behaviour I have felt intimidated and silenced for many years.”
Edwards denied attacking Evans, saying her “specific claims are false” but added: “There are incidents in my past which I am ashamed of, and which I have worked hard to put behind me.”
He said he had been arrested for assaulting a partner in 2012, while she was pregnant, and after pleading guilty to causing actual bodily harm was sentenced to 15 weeks’ imprisonment.
Evans said she decided to go public about the alleged abuse that she said happened during her relationship with the rapper 13 years ago after hearing Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez calling out a sexist culture of “accepting violence and violent language against women”.
“I felt like I’d been complicit, enabling and in alliance with this man,” she said.
Edwards has been a fixture on the UK hip-hop scene for more than three decades. He hosted a show on BBC Radio 1Xtra for more than six years, and has presented a number of music documentaries for BBC4.
In his statement, he admitted to hitting a former girlfriend 24 years ago, describing it as an “isolated incident” that “immediately ended the relationship” and of which he was ‘deeply ashamed’.
But the former girlfriend referred to in the statement told the Guardian the attack happened after they had split up and after Edwards had discovered she had started a new relationship.
Describing the attack, she said that after “reading something he didn’t like” in her diary he struck her with the back of his hand across her face, splitting her lip.
He locked himself in the bathroom with her diary, then opened the door and dragged her in, she said. “He dragged me in by my throat and pinned me up against the wall until my feet came off the ground,” she said.
“He kept asking me the most intimate of questions you could possibly imagine. And it wasn’t about what I answered, it was about what he wanted to hear, what he had convinced himself of. I thought that day I was going to die.”
The woman said it was the only incidence of physical violence, but that for the following year the rapper had “constantly called and bullied” her, checking where she was going and verbally abusing her, leaving her in a “state of anxiety and nervousness”, she said:
“He would call me and question who I’d been speaking to, where I had been.”
Edwards said: “I could not comment on the impact my actions may have had on [her] mental health. The incident referred to ended our 10-year relationship […] I am still deeply sorry that I ever hurt [her].”
He added: “I do not in any way condone domestic violence and would do anything in my power to right my wrongs. Unfortunately, I can’t. To every person that has been affected by this I am truly sorry.”
Edwards’ label Tru Thoughts records issued a statement last week, saying their work with Edwards was “currently suspended”, and adding: ”We take domestic abuse very seriously, and we do not condone abusive behaviour in any way.”
The woman said she had been left uncomfortable seeing Edwards present BBC documentaries. “The fact that he’s abused and bullied me and other women yet managed to garner success as this ‘godfather of UK hip-hop’ is deceptive, when he’s left so much damage in his wake,” she said.
“As a survivor of abuse, you are deeply affected for the rest of your life.”
The Guardian has seen a complaint sent to the BBC that accused Edwards of domestic abuse after he presented Rodney P’s Jazz Funk at the end of July. A response dated 10 September, stated the corporation was “not aware of any reports of the nature mentioned” and concerns should be taken to the “appropriate authorities”.
It added: “His experience in the music industry is the reason he was involved in our programming – personal matters aren’t connected to the documentary subject.”
“It is like they are saying domestic abuse has nothing to do with us,” said Evans. In a statement, the BBC said: “Details of these serious incidents were not disclosed prior to us working with him. There are currently no plans to work with him in the future.”
Evans said she hoped society could talk more openly and without shame about domestic abuse. “We all mess up,” she said. “But we have to take responsibility for our mistakes otherwise we leave a legacy of pain and trauma.”