Here’s the New Mary J. Blige Video That Abuse Survivors Really Want You to See

The Grammy Award–winning singer-songwriter’s heartbreaking new release ends with a positive spin.
Dec 3, 2014· 1 MIN READ
Samantha Cowan is an associate editor for culture.

Mary J. Blige sings, “It took a whole damn year to repair my body,” in her new R&B ballad about heartbreak, but the accompanying music video reveals that the wounds of emotional abuse take much longer to heal.

Told through black-and-white vignettes, the video for “Whole Damn Year” represents Blige’s lyrics about physical pain. Blige is featured minimally in the video, which was released on Tuesday. A light piano line and a sparse kit make the narrative of three abuse stories all the more powerful.

Each story is told as a flashback. The characters fight to move forward with their lives and relationships but are held back by fear and distrust brought on by abuse.

A young woman hides from her boyfriend in the bathroom as she reflects on child abuse at the hands of her father. Although 85 percent of domestic abuse victims are women, the video also includes a teenage boy who recalls gay bashing from his peers as he longs for his father’s acceptance. A mom painfully remembers her daughter witnessing past abuse as she struggles to make ends.

One in every four women will experience some form of domestic abuse in her lifetime, and approximately 1.3 million women suffer physical assault from a romantic partner annually, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

It might seem like the story wraps up too easily, with a tearful hug and a strong handshake, but the clip doesn’t make light of these scenarios. Instead, Blige offers hope for abuse victims in the video’s conclusion, showing each character in a happy and trusting relationship.