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What it doesn’t mean.

March 2, 2009

So, reports are everywhere that Chris Brown and Rihanna are getting back together, or at the very least spent the weekend together at Diddy’s mansion in Miami.

Who knows what’s true about these rumors? Hardly anyone. But for argument’s sake, and because many people are already assuming this is true, let’s discuss what it doesn’t mean if Rihanna takes Chris back:

  1. It doesn’t mean she is stupid. Leaving an abusive partner is hard – really, really hard. Some studies have shown that it takes an average woman 4-7 tries before she can leave her abuser for good. Why? Because abusers aren’t transparent assholes all of the time. They can be very manipulative, and most of the time will wear down their partner’s self-esteem quite thoroughly long before they start with the physical violence. They’re also often charming and can be very loving and doting and romantic when they’re not being violent. They can talk real pretty about what they’ve learned, how sorry they are, how they’re going to change, how they can’t change without the help of their wo/man. And of course, we want to believe that we haven’t been so blind in choosing a partner for ourselves. We want to believe we can help. We want to believe that the good in them outweighs the bad. It’s a hard, hard situation. This is a good post about all of these dynamics.
  2. It doesn’t mean we should forgive him. Because of all this, even if she does take him back, even if they seem happier than ever together, we shouldn’t forget. We shouldn’t shame her for her choices – when we think we can tell a woman what she should do, we’re not much better than a controlling boyfriend ourselves. But we can still call for justice to be served. He can still be prosecuted even if she doesn’t press charges. We can also continue to hold the media accountable for what they say about this case, to ensure that blame is placed on the proper party – the abuser.
  3. It doesn’t mean what he’s alleged to have done is any less horrible. Again, see above. There are a lot of psychological reasons that victims take their abusers back. It doesn’t mean the abuse was any kind of “no big deal.” In fact, it often means it’s an even bigger deal than we thought, and involves psychological abuse as well, which leaves a victim vulnerable when the abuser comes back and tries to make nice.
  4. It doesn’t mean she has betrayed any kind of sisterhood. OK, let’s get real clear on this one. Rihanna did not sign up to be any kind of spokesmodel for dating violence. The fact that we even know it was Rihanna is due to her name, and then her photo, being leaked and exploited. Rihanna is a young woman in a really hard situation, trying to figure it out the best she can. She owes us nothing. Her decisions are hers to make, and none of us know what we would do in her shoes – even if we have been through similar things, we haven’t been through her actual life. If we start judging her or blaming her for being a bad role model, the sisterhood has failed her, not the other way around. Got it?
  5. It doesn’t mean that if he hurts her again, she deserves it. See number 1 – she is likely in a psychological state that’s hard to understand from the outside. There may seem to her to be a million reasons for her to take him back. Not one of them means that she deserves to be hurt again. No one deserves to be beaten or abused. Ever. By anyone. Period.
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57 Comments leave one →
  1. infamousqbert permalink
    March 2, 2009 10:01 am

    now, if only we could get these points across to the media and have them believe it, too.

    • ThePinch permalink
      March 14, 2009 2:27 pm

      Media is interested in one thing – selling media. When the Rhiannah/Chris situation becomes one best resolved between themselves, media fans the flames with absurd, tasteless and inappropriate accusations. It’s big business.

      This post is the first (hopefully, of many) where people do not mindlessly swallow everything they’re given. This post is powerful because it puts the voice back with the people, and not some tycoon’s bank account.

  2. March 2, 2009 11:35 am

    Wonderful post.

  3. Liz permalink
    March 2, 2009 12:17 pm

    Right on!

  4. March 2, 2009 12:18 pm

    I wish such sense would come across in the mainstream media, especially the entertainment media. For all the people who experience “domestic” violence in their lives, why doesn’t a fair and compassionate perspective like this get further play.

  5. March 2, 2009 1:29 pm

    Great post. It’s hard for women to leave their abusers for many reasons – not the least financial dependence, the kids, shame and fear of what he’ll do. Thanks for reminding people not to judge and that for pointing out the complexities. I’m so sick of reading all those “Chris is a nice guy who made a tiny error” statements.

  6. March 2, 2009 6:16 pm

    I’m so glad someone said it.

  7. March 2, 2009 9:00 pm

    thank you so much for this important post. I hope we can get away from the finger pointing and start talking about how to teach young people to have healthier relationships– only two states, Rhode Island and Texas, mandate education about relationship abuse, and recent CDC reports indicate that teen dating violence is on the rise. But when something like this happens, we get so caught up in blame that we forget the whole “preventing this from happening to women whose bruises won’t be on magazine covers” part.

  8. Wendell permalink
    March 2, 2009 9:01 pm

    I’m passing on this post and the linked one. On point.

  9. elledub08 permalink
    March 3, 2009 11:30 am

    thank you so much for this perspective. i appreciate it greatly.

  10. LitUpLotus permalink
    March 3, 2009 11:43 am

    Thank you for putting this out there. The view points in mainstream media and even most of the blogosphere is focused either on the celebrity aspect, i.e. none of it has any relevance beyond entertainment value (sic!) or it swings from the “what did Rihanna do to provoke him” end of the stick to “she deserves what she gets for staying with him” end. The next time one man beats another black and blue I’d like to know who is wondering what he did to provoke it. What frightens me the most is grown women calling Chris a “Bad Boy” for his behavior what hope do our teens have in the face of all the patriarchy-bots who nod, laugh and dismiss my misgivings with a wave.

    • jsb16 permalink
      March 9, 2009 6:24 pm

      I wish I could through to my students that there’s nothing she did or could have done that would have justified him beating her. I had an incident with a student just today in which the student kept trying to insist that Rihanna started it, that she hit him first, that yada-yada-yada. ARGH!!!

  11. March 3, 2009 12:25 pm

    Thank you for this very important post. I hope it gets to as many people as possible and that as many folks as possible link to it to ensure that those seeking help or education might find it…or stumble across it even if they don’t know what they’re looking for.

  12. Pamela permalink
    March 3, 2009 1:21 pm

    I appreciate this post, it fills in the one-dimensional thinking that often surrounds domestic violence in particular. I realize this doesn’t fit within this list as it relates to Chris Brown/males in this situation but I just need to say it – I read where Chris Brown planned to learn how to deal with his anger by consulting with his pastor and his father.

    To me this means he’s not going to get much help at all; it seems like a fall back position, something to say because you have to appear to be taking steps to change. The guy needs professional help and longer term assistance than consulting would provide (unless his pastor specializes in helping abusers). The media just glossed over this assuming to my mind that it was good enough.

  13. Debra permalink
    March 3, 2009 4:52 pm

    Thank you for saying what needs to be said. It will never be understood by anyone except an abused woman. For a perfect point of view from the unique vantage point of the abuseD, read “Black and Blue” by Anna Quindlen, the book that articulates the feelings I’ve always known but couldn’t express.

  14. Ann permalink
    March 3, 2009 6:39 pm

    Wonderful read, and excellent points.

  15. Meg permalink
    March 3, 2009 6:40 pm

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!

    This post is so important. So many people (blessedly) have never had occasion to understand the dynamics of an abusive relationship, and I’m bracing myself for the flood of media insensitivity if and when Chris Brown and Rihanna release some statement.

    The general public and media reaction to these incidents (the sensationalism, releasing pictures, names, etc, and later the victim-blaming, the input from celebrities who have nothing to do with either involved party) have been so revealing and so symptomatic of how Western culture regards partner violence.

    Abuse is too real for many of us, yet so often the public and the media perpetuate ignorant and harmful attitudes regarding it.

    Thank you for this list!

  16. leebee permalink
    March 3, 2009 7:49 pm

    you said it moya.

    I think you should send this through the the webworld.

  17. March 4, 2009 5:11 am

    It doesn’t mean we should forgive him.

    yep.. i agree with this one. even though i’m a man, but i’d never hurt any woman physically..

  18. Andrew permalink
    March 4, 2009 7:32 am

    Glad to see you make this point – I almost threw up watching (OK, I ran into, is more like it) CNN’s headline news yesterday where they went ON and ON about how stupid they BOTH were, that they are ROLE models and so on. No, the MEDIA is the role model here too, importantly. Pretending that stars are somehow above and beyond the representations we get in our own families – and I mean the *mis* representation that somehow “normal” (non-star) families are somehow better than these folk is absurd. Thanks for sharing your points.

  19. March 4, 2009 10:05 am

    I agree with all of the aforementioned things, but you fail to mention how much more significant her decision is because of her fame.

    Rihanna is, whether anyone likes it or not, a role model. She’s a celebrity in the spotlight, and she had a seemingly unblemished record of good ethics, no outright drug use, nothing bad at all. Girls look up to her, like they would any celebrity–but she’s young and pretty, so she’s even more famous. I know that she is human, but her decision is setting women back years: it’s giving the message that it’s okay. Little girls, teenage women are finding out now that this is all normal part of a relationship, and love conquers all, and that good women stick by their man (no matter the carnage).

    It’s horrible, and it’s tough, but her decision is going to adversely affect girls everywhere.

    • Meredith permalink
      March 8, 2009 5:49 pm

      I find it interesting that you, and many others, continue to make this point, yet no one seems to talk about the ramifications of Chris Brown’s actions. No one’s talking about the fact the he’s a role model, and his decision to beat Rihanna will also have ramifications. He is teaching little boys and young men that it is OK to physically abuse women….but no one’s saying that.

      No, it’s Rihanna’s job to be the role model. It’s her job to teach little girls and young women how not to be in an abusive relationship.

      I by no means mean to imply that you are not aware of these implications; however, our society’s constant focus on the woman’s decisions-rather than the man’s choice to rape/beart/hit/verbally abuse/etc. and the implications that come with that choice in cases of abuse is disturbing to me…and clearly part of the problem.

      • jsb16 permalink
        March 9, 2009 6:30 pm

        What Meredith said. Chris Brown seems to be getting off quite lightly in the media. He’s going to talk to his pastor and his father? Aren’t they the ones most likely to have taught him to be an abuser in the first place? At the moment, he’s a role model of how much crap men can get away with in our society while everyone focuses on blaming the woman involved.

    • vix permalink
      March 12, 2009 9:21 pm

      do you suggest that rihanna is really going to affect the decisions of young women all over the world to be punched or not to be punched? give the girl a break, she’s obviously under enough pressure. Why don’t you try banning the sales of beauty and the beast instead of picking on one poor girl, she is still only a child herself and like many of us at that age, she still believes in fairy lies.

  20. jaclynfriedman permalink*
    March 4, 2009 10:16 am

    @Alex, I really disagree. I think if women and girls are adversely affected by this story, it’s going to be because of the way the media reported on it, they way their fellow celebs excused or downplayed it, and because Chris beat up Rihanna. If they are getting back together, the media COULD take that as an opportunity to talk about psychological abuse in intimate relationships, and how that makes it hard to leave, how friends can help and what’s not helpful, etc. But you know, by and large, they’re not going to.

    • March 4, 2009 5:16 pm

      Jaclyn, the media is gonna do what they’re gonna do: report gossip. They aren’t going to objectively examine the realities of spousal abuse. I’m just really disappointed that Rihanna took him back, because the repercussions for her and for the youth are REAL.

      • This is long because I've got a lot of stuff to say, and I permalink
        March 9, 2009 8:02 am

        Okay, so wait, I don’t get it… why does it bother you that Rihanna’s being a bad role model for girls way more than it bothers you that Chris Brown is being a bad role model for guys by…. battering in the first place?

        Another thing that confuses me: Yes, I agree there are “REAL repercussions” when Rihanna goes back to Chris, repercussions at the very least on the attitudes about leaving abuse that exist in the minds of future abuse victims*. But why the context? Why ignore that there are only repercussions because:
        -Chris Brown hit her in the first place
        -There isn’t comprehensive education in our schools about domestic violence; education that should be for both genders and include deprogramming about gendered expectations of dominance, subordination, and control (check out the duluth model), education that should include the mental tools for potential abusers to break the generational/familial cycle of practicing abuse (conflict and emotional management, healthy ways of understanding emotion (what does ‘displacement’ mean, for example)); education that should include a distinction difference between ‘possessive love’ and ‘altruistic love.’ Education that doesn’t just prepare potential victims to not be long term victims, but prepares potential abusers to not be abusers The shitty “sex-ed” or “health-education” that goes around in schools doesn’t adequately cover this.

        See, I don’t get it. Cause Rihanna is only the straw that breaks the camels’ back here, but you act like it’s all her fault.
        -I mean, the educational system and the media is bad, but oh-well, right? Those aren’t changing anytime soon so what’s the point of using this event as an opportunity to call them out, right? I guess we should focus on Rihanna, because she’s the more immediate cause of abusive relationships happening.
        -But then you still have the sticky thorn that: Chris Brown also beat her, recently.
        -I guess where you go from there is that Rihanna going back to a fucked up relationship is worse than physical abuse because unlike Chris, she knew she was going to be a role model for her behavior *before* she did it and she still did it knowing the influence it will have on millions.

        The situation isn’t the sum of any one person’s actions – it’s the sum of all of them. But when it comes to actual guilt – I think it doesn’t take a pulitzer to figure out that Rihanna just made some fucked up love decisions (under the national spotlight), but Chris slammed Rihanna against a car door and punched her in the face.

        Okay, so wait, I don’t get it… why does it bother you that Rihanna’s being a bad role model for girls way more than it bothers you that Chris Brown is being a bad role model for guys by…. battering in the first place?

        Another thing that confuses me: Yes, I agree there are “REAL repercussions” when Rihanna goes back to Chris, repercussions at the very least on the attitudes about leaving abuse that exist in the minds of future abuse victims*. But why the context? Why ignore that there are only repercussions because:
        -Chris Brown hit her in the first place
        -There isn’t comprehensive education in our schools about domestic violence; education that should be for both genders and include deprogramming about gendered expectations of dominance, subordination, and control (check out the duluth model), education that should include the mental tools for potential abusers to break the generational/familial cycle of practicing abuse (conflict and emotional management, healthy ways of understanding emotion (what does ‘displacement’ mean, for example)); education that should include a distinction difference between ‘possessive love’ and ‘altruistic love.’ Education that doesn’t just prepare potential victims to not be long term victims, but prepares potential abusers to not be abusers The shitty “sex-ed” or “health-education” that goes around in schools doesn’t adequately cover this.
        -the media reports this all fucked-up-like and doesn’t contextualize this in discussion of patterns of abusive relationship behavior. If the media ever does bother to contextualize this, it’s in a way which takes advantage of her partaking in a behavior that is universally disapproved (returning to an abusive relationship) to imply that the problem of partner abuse exists only in the victims’ imagination and is so subjective as to be meaningless – somehow, if she’s been psychologically reduced to a point where she’s okay with being beaten up, it means its not a problem, because she’s okay with it. Like rape, the victim has to prove they didn’t want it, and prove it in a way acceptable to patriarchy’s sense of reasoning. The burden is not on the rapist to prove consent, or on the abuser to prove she was cool with it (which, doesn’t even make sense) – those states of being are assumed universally present in all male-female relationships. Girls give automatically consent to being fuckdolls and punching bags until they say no – and even then they might be consenting (lord knows that girls can’t be trusted to know).

        See, I don’t get it. Cause Rihanna is only the straw that breaks the camels’ back here as for the effect of this entire fucked up situation as for how a future victim of abuse may act, but you act like it’s all her fault – on a sidenote: I guess you’re saying it’s not as relevant that Chris hit her, because Chris didn’t know that action would be put in the spotlight. Chris Brown’s causality here is absolved because hitting one’s gf in secret is somehow much better than doing it in public.

        Okay, okay, I’ll give you a break on all the “invisible-izing all the potential other causes of future continued abusive relationships to somehow magically, coincidentally be obsessed with affirming this one potential cause – the one which was made a girl” part. So why might absolving Rihanna be a bad thing, right? Shouldn’t we be paying some attention to how she fucked up as a role model by getting back with Chris?:

        I can shake hands with you and wholeheartedly agree that we cannot be unrealistic and just expect all abuse to disappear tomorrow by turning *all* the attention on the “bad guys.” But I’m not sure that’s what the authors of this blog have in mind.

        I think the authors of this blog want the abused to have information, want the abused to know they don’t have to live this relationship, want to know how to get out and find resources and start a healthier life, etc. I think what they’re upset about is how ALL of the discussion of solving these problems are placed on the victims’ shoulders supposedly because of the ‘immediacy’ of it. Maybe here you see every other factor discussed, and so feel that future abuse victims will be deprived of the important lesson of leaving abusive relationships. But in the rest of the world, 99% of the factors considered in public about what perpetuates of abusive relationships orbit around the failure of the victim to leave.

        We are in no shortage, and will not be in the foresee-able future, of masses of apologists telling the abused to “just leave” (we are, coincidently, in a shortage of people actually providing the resources to help women who have left a bad relationship, or spending the time to find out from domestic violence shelters who’ll tell you in a minute flat that “just leave” doesn’t work). I don’t think we’re going to run out of folks like that anytime soon just because of this Rihanna incident.

        I think what they’d like is to have at least SOME discussion of Chris’ responsibility here and a complex, sympathethic understanding of Rihanna. You say

        “well, the media is patriarchal, so therefore we should just accept patriarchal messages, and women are obligated to work within them if they want to help other women(by say, being the “perfect woman” who can work within all the constraints of society and still raise three kids and clean the house and make dinner and hold a job and be married and if she ever leaves an abusive relationship leave and never come back! And she always dresses modestly and defers to her husband and if she obeys the menfolk’s rules in all the right ways (with a few holdover norms from that feminist era (didn’t you hear? it’s over…) like not liking explicitly abusive men) they might give her a pat on the head. After all – she gets everything right while being so *helpful* and never offending *anyone* in power – everyone should look up to her, and try to be like her, and if they can’t hold down a job and raise kids, or if they get raped, well its their fault)”

        “so anyway, women should just work within the patriarchal messages, rules and behavioral restrictions that the media tacitly encourages. They should only try to help other women by working *within* these rules, and shouldn’t waste time challenging these rules… because, well… you can’t challenge patriarchy in the media! It’s uh… impossible! And it’s… unproductive! To complain about the media! Unproductive! Much more productive to complain about Rihanna and other stupid women! Very useful to focus on bashing only women’s influence when bad things happen to women! I’m sure the best way to help women is to criticize ill-behaved women!”

        …. after all, it is only women’s responsibility to look after other women, right?

        I think what the blog authors are implying, by explicating the reasons Rihanna might return to her boyfriend, is that, no, that view is not correct. That it is the media’s responsibility, and all of society’s responsibility, and your responsibility as a blog reader, to understand why Rihanna might return to an abusive relationship. And implying a demand that general society take on the responsibility of educating ourselves about how an abusive relationship works. And not just a limiting, selective ‘only these people need to know about it – and all they need to know is that they should leave way.’

        You’re saying victims should know to leave and that’s why Rihanna, in the public spotlight, shouldn’t have gotten back with Chris. I think they’re saying victims should know to leave, but more importantly: people should know about what’s going on here. They’re saying we cannot disingenuously choose to condemn Rihanna as if she has a lot of agency here – doing so may teach people that a domestic violence relationship is wrong – but it won’t teach them anything else about domestic violence. If we are to have the opportunity to talk and be heard on the issue – let us be honest, let us be educative in the fullest manner possible. Let us not say “Rihanna knew what she was doing, and did a bad thing by going back to her spouse when she knew lots of girls were looking up to her.” Let us be honest and say “this illustrates how difficult ‘leaving’ is, and how we need to complicate our understanding of this problem to solve it: This shows that there can be abuse, and public pressure to leave, yet a variety of factors outside of the victim’s control can make it better, or seem better to stay. Career. Psychological control. Threats from the abuser. Many of these things make it unreasonable for us to look at asking women to ‘just leave’ as the immediate, obvious, and only thing we can do to help those in abusive relationships.” and let us be fair and say “this illustrates how much of an asshole Chris Brown is, and how often conversations about abuse center too much on what the victim is doing, and ignore or think of as inevitable (and thus acceptable and something to be complicit about) what the abuser is doing. That is to say, one of the best solutions we can do to end abusive relationships is prevent them.”

        If we have the opportunity to speak, let us bear witness to the reality of the situation and how it can serve as an educational tool for us. Yes, children will be affected by Rihanna returning. But I think the point this blog post is trying to get at, is that that isn’t entirely Rihanna’s fault because returning to an abusive relationship couldn’t be said to be entirely Rihanna’s fault. And that this is an opportunity to explore why this is so.

        (I am going to ignore for a minute that you’re totally ignoring the effect of the situation and its MSM commentary on future potential batterers – why is it that we are to be unconcerned with batterers’ education and responsibility in case of an abusive relationship? Why is it that the education of, and responsibilities of victims are “more immediate” when for every person who could leave someone because of hitting or verbal or sexual abuse, there is a child who could be prevented, long term, from hitting or abusing people in the first place?)

        I also don’t understand your live-and-let-live cant-do-nothing-about-it attitude about the media. Social criticism isn’t allowed anymore?

  21. Ashleigh permalink
    March 4, 2009 12:51 pm

    This was a great post. Thank you for putting it up here so people can read it!

    • magiacake permalink
      March 10, 2009 9:45 pm

      I wish everyone reads it, it is poetic and reinforces everything I know to be true.

  22. Heather permalink
    March 4, 2009 3:38 pm

    I agree with #1 wholeheartedly and it is exactly what I experienced in an abusive relationship. By the time physical violence began I had been so worn down emotionally and felt I was worth nothing…less than my boyfriend. It was a complicated situation due to promises to love each other forever, and the fact that I had lost any sense of self in the years we were together and guilt I would be leaving him broke & in debt if I left. I kept telling myself I had made a promise to stick by him and help him change and at least by staying I was the better person by keeping my promises, even if it killed me. I wish I had made a different decision and saved myself from it sooner. I was seeing a psychologist and I remember telling her often, “When it’s good between us, it’s really good! It’s just twice a month it gets really bad.” You learn to adapt to your environment when you don’t see a way out. I wouldn’t tell my family about the abuse for fear that they wouldn’t like him anymore and I would be forced to confront the inequity of the situation. It took a long time for me to see my way out of it…and sadly I went straight from a physical/mental abuser to a relationship with a con-artist…someone who not only took advantage of me but had very bad intentions from the start, unlike the previous boyfriend. Luckily I’m past all that now. The saddest part about Rihanna is I see her making mistakes I made, but have learned from. We are not born with wisdom – that’s something you learn from experiences like these.

    • Wendell permalink
      March 4, 2009 8:01 pm

      I found your story really powerful and educational; thank you for sharing, Heather.

  23. Bhetti B permalink
    March 4, 2009 6:02 pm

    Rihanna and Chris need to come out and tell us what actually happened or is happening, as best as they can. They ‘owe’ the legion of Chris/Rihanna-worshippers the truth, or at least the truth they want us to perceive. They need to be aware of the implications of all that they do in a wider sense: they have fame and cannot escape from that.

    I assume celeberities are bad role models. It’s probably half the reason why they are famous. I despise both these guys, because I have to hear about them, because its fueling the idea that a guy can sorry therefore it’s fine and because they don’t feel any responsibility for anyone or for their own image to their fans by refuting anything. Just because she’s female or she’s a victim, doesn’t mean I have to like the person I see.

  24. mkbiden permalink
    March 5, 2009 11:19 am

    I agree withe what does it mean to forgive him.
    Its true that even if they do get back we should’t
    forget what happened. I also found that the story
    interesting and good. I llike reading stuff khinda
    like this. thanks for posting it.:D

  25. Michelle Sedaca permalink
    March 5, 2009 4:10 pm

    Well said! I am going to post this on Casa Myrna’s (a Boston-based domestic violence agency) Facebook page/cause.

  26. ldub permalink
    March 6, 2009 4:51 pm

    thank you! so much more eloquent and succinct than i possibly could have made it!

  27. John permalink
    March 6, 2009 5:16 pm

    I agree with points #2-5, but I disagree with point #1.

    When someone beats you that badly, to go back to them is stupid regardless of your feelings for them or about yourself. Just because it’s “really, really hard” to break it off with them, doesn’t change the fact that not breaking it off with them is stupid.

    As an analogy, it might be really, really hard for a clean alcoholic to not take a drink, but for them to actually do it is still stupid. They will likely destroy all the good progress they’ve made on their addiction and in their life in short order.

    • Sam permalink
      April 6, 2009 11:31 pm

      Thank you. This is the first thing that popped in my head when reading this and I couldn’t believe nobody brought that up sooner.

  28. Emely permalink
    March 6, 2009 9:00 pm

    Brilliant. Thank you so much for articulating the complexity of domestic violence and the societal repercussions that reinforce rather than dismantle the tragedy of domestic violence.

    You rock and I will definitely share this post.

    Thank you.

  29. March 6, 2009 10:01 pm

    peace………love……..light…….joy
    may it be so

  30. Rachel permalink
    March 8, 2009 5:41 pm

    One of the most proeminant newspapers in Brazil, “O Globo”, has a small article about Rihanna gettin back together with Brown. The headline goes like “later, she comes back complaining”, full of irony. I don’t know if my translation kept the meaning that it had, so I’ll explain: it means she SHOULDN’T complain if she is abused again cause she chose to forgive him.
    I don’t have words.

  31. Ishtar permalink
    March 9, 2009 3:22 am

    This is an excellent post and a welcome rational and reasonable response to much of the speculation and victim blaming in the mass media.

    Yes, Rihanna is a public figure and doubtless many young women look up to her but…she shouldn’t have to bear the burden of other people’s choices. This is her life and the choices are hers to make, not ours, whatever our opinions may be.

    I will be sad if she has gone back to him but I understand that the dynamic in abusive relationships is complex and she will leave when she is ready to leave.

  32. High School permalink
    March 9, 2009 8:36 am

    What I hate is how a lot of teens are taking this; claiming that she deserved it and that she had better take her back. It’s BS, I know that, but so many teens seem to believe that!

    I’m hearing this behind me, as I’m in class.

    I think I’m gonna go puke now…

  33. Amanda permalink
    March 9, 2009 11:01 am

    Awesome aweome post. Thank you.

  34. Tara permalink
    March 10, 2009 11:53 am

    I don’t care what Rihanna did. This is NOT HER FAULT. There is no excuse for abuse. Also, it is REALLY hard for women (young, old, famous, rich, poor) to leave an abusive relationship whether it’s physical or not. I lived with an emotionally abusive man for six years. It was quite the roller coaster. My self esteem was down to nothing, and I was thoroughly confused (anyone hear of the term ‘crazy making’?). Rihanna is most likely in the same boat. We can’t expect her to miraculously dump her abuser just because she’s famous (pretty tall ridiculous order if you ask me). In fact, her fans have NO RIGHT to demand that of her. Role model my ass! This young woman’s trust was violated by somene she loves, hence the fact that she has a long, rocky journey ahead of her.

  35. magiacake permalink
    March 10, 2009 8:51 pm

    please don’t compare women who happen to become involved with abusive me addicts, when you put the bottle down it doesn’t get up and stalk you around, you can just walk away thats a bad example.

  36. magiacake permalink
    March 10, 2009 8:52 pm

    i meant “abusive men”

  37. magiacake permalink
    March 10, 2009 9:05 pm

    I agree that society blames the victims for the abuse. There are no women heading large criminal organizations which are the root of the crime problems in society. When everyone starts to see that it is the environment that women are forced to work within that is the reason that they happen, yes happen to end up being abused by a much bigger man. No woman chooses to be abused, thats total nonsense.

  38. Dianne Palachik permalink
    March 11, 2009 8:33 am

    Thank you!

  39. Sassygirl permalink
    March 11, 2009 10:50 am

    I too was in an abusive relationship and almost got killed. I was really young at the time, 14-17 years of age is when it happened to me. My boyfriend at the time was 5 years older than me and I suppose being that young and all I was totally infatuated by him. He showered me with gifts all the time. But he was horribly jealous. He had my friends spy on me at school and he would drive by my house to see who was there and what time the lights went out. He didn’t like tthe fact that I used to smoke or wear nail polish. He used to beat me up and once inparticular he found out that Iskipped a class and he started to beat me up outside the mall in the parking lot and believe it or not no one helped. A police officer at the time, 35 years ago, I’m 51 now, pulled up and asked my boyfriend why he was hitting me and he told them that he was my brother and he was hitting me because I didn’t go to school. They just kind of smirked and walked away. I’m sure if it had been today it would have been different. Another time he tried to run me over with his car. He even came to my workplace in the office I worked and smashed my face on the typewritter and I was bleeding from my mouth and nose. My boss was not in the office but came shortly after and called the police to get him off the premises. Still the cops did nothing but ask him to leave and no charges were laid. My boss took me in his office that day to give me some fatherly advice as he put it. He actually begged me to tell someone and to really think long and hard about marrying him, as he knew we were planning to get married one day. There were many more near misses and beatings but to cut it short this lasted for about 4 years before I saw the light, so to speak. I never told anyone about the abuse because I was afraid. The only one who knew at the time was my younger sister and she didn’t know what to do either. I hid my bruises pretty well. Although it was hard to explain to my mom and others why my face was bruised at the time. I just told her that i fell and got hurt. Eventually I did leave him when I had turned 19 and started to realize that this was not love at all and I was foolish to stay in an abusive relationship. He didn’t take it well and of course he stated to get mad and follow me around and try to get me alone to hit me or give me another beating but i must have been very lucky because that was when I met this wonderful guy who is my husband of 32 years today. He is a very special person and we’ve been together since. I’ve never forgotten the abuse and I always talk to my 2 daughters about it so that they are aware of the signs of an abusive person. It’s true they keep sdaying how much they love you and that they are sorry but it won’t happen again. of course it always happended over and over and it got even worse. I was very lucky to survive and get out in time before something worse happened to me maybe even death. So I understand completely where Rihanna is coming from and I understand her situaltion far from being easy. We all make decisions we have to live with and hopefully we make the right ones. It isn’t easy when you’re the victim of abuse.

  40. March 13, 2009 11:18 am

    This was excellant!! I totally agree with the statement because as much as everyone believes that they have an opinion on this situation there are really only two people that this situation is affecting, and that is the victim and the abuse.

    This should be put out to the media because to be honest if neither were famoise would we even know about this situation? Probably not, it would just be another case of domestic violence. The media has exploited this whole situation which is what the media does!

  41. March 16, 2009 10:18 am

    I feel that people in general are always quick to pass judgment on others and to claim what they would or would not do for example stating that they would not return to an abusive relationship. What I feel that we need to keep in mind is that someone who is abusive doesn’t normally start out exhibiting extremely controlling or abusive behaviors. The power and control issues that an abuser demonstrates can occur for various reasons for instance perhaps he/she may have grown up in an abusive household and therefore see this as a normal way to behave, they may have learned that they can get what they want by abusing, they may have not learned effective and positive ways of communicating with others, they may lack esteem and feel they need to have power over others to feel good about themselves (much like the bullies we may have dealt with in school).Besides the fact that the power and control in many abusive relationships starts out gradually an abuser appears to be very charming and is in fact manipulative and calculated in their behaviors. I have heard things in regards to this case he hit her but did you hear that she gave him an std, which is something that I myself never heard though the media. I think with these two young people being celebrities it is hard to know what is true and what is hype from the media, without actually being there all we do know is that Rihanna was said to be abused by her boyfriend Chris Brown ,in an effort to believe and support her as a victim who didn’t even really have the right to share her story for her self we have to remember that she is not a spokesperson for domestic violence nor did she sign up to be a role model for teens who should therefore be dismissed because she returned to an abusive relationship. Rihanna needs support, and prayers from all of us not judgement. Chris , also being a young survivivor of dv himself needs the same.

  42. Naomi permalink
    March 20, 2009 12:59 pm

    As an advocate, I find that women have a difficult leaving an abusive partner because they don’t want to let go of the dream. All women learn at an early age that our prince is just around the corner waiting to rescue us and fulfill our every desire. Media shows the perfect family with a nice house, white fence, a couple of kids and a shaggy dog in the yard. The abuser knows how to manipulate her and tell her everything she wants to hear. So when she goes back, she’s not only returning to him, but seeking that dream and the hope for a better life because that is what he as promised her to get her to return.

    I know that lots of people are saying that Chris made one little mistake, but the truth is, his abusive behavior has shown it’s ugly face a time or two in the past. One involved breaking out the windows of her car. Is it any less abusive if he ruins her property? Isn’t it meant to scare her and intimidate her?

    I have a problem with P Diddy giving them his place to reunite. I only hope he had a come to Jesus meeting with Chris about violence, but I have my doubts. If this beautiful young woman should be killed in the future, I hope he will remember his part in this.

    I counsel domestic violence survivors everyday. I can tell you that abused women probably have 100 reasons to stay and only one reason to leave. That one reason is: She might die if she doesn’t leave.

    Of the thousands of women that have died due to domestic violence, do you think any of them believed for one minute that there was someone in this world that wanted to see them dead?

  43. nomorehurt permalink
    April 14, 2009 2:46 am

    Excellent points you’ve made. I hope this is read by both victims and non-victims alike. We all need to open up to a better understanding of what domestic violence is all about. Thanks for the post.

Trackbacks

  1. Beyond Gossip, Good and Evil at Racialicious - the intersection of race and pop culture
  2. Rihanna a Role Model « Arroz Con Beans
  3. Domestic Violence: More on Rihanna and Chris Brown « Abuse Recovery
  4. More on Rihanna and Chris Brown « SACOMSS

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