In light of recent events surrounding the two young, attractive musical sensations Chris Brown and Rihanna, I decided that it was time for a real discussion about domestic violence-an issue that is constantly overlooked and under acknowledged: That is, of course, until the entertainment industry becomes involved.
I thought that on the day major television networks, such as BET, and major television gurus, such as Oprah, openly addressed domestic violence, I would be ecstatic about the strides our society was making in relation to issues that are still, quite often, considered to be taboo or unworthy of discussion. However, is it really progress when the only reason it is being brought to light is a very public, violent, and wrongly portrayed domestic violence situation involving two young stars that many of us find ourselves admiring?
As a trained advocate for ending domestic violence and a founding member of The Movement, an advocacy organization dedicated to changing campus culture and promoting bystander intervention, the thing that bothers me the most is the way the media portrayed this situation, and the responses received from the public that were sure signs of their minds being poisoned by societal perpetuation of negative stereotypes and misconceptions.
Not only was Rihanna blamed for her own attack due to allegations of throwing the keys of Brown’s Lamborghini or infecting him with a Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI), but also, many people posted links to YouTube videos humorously portraying the incident. But what can we expect when we live in a society that refers to tank-tops as “wife-beaters” and uses rape playfully as a term of dominance?
Brown has spoken out against domestic violence after observing his own mother’s abuse by his stepfather. Though this may be seen as hypocrisy, studies show that a person is more likely to become an abuser after witnessing it as a child, or living in a household in which there were traditional gender roles. However, the majority of people who observe or experience that abuse do NOT abuse others, and there is nothing that justifies his behavior or makes this Rihanna’s fault. Abuse is about maintaining power and control over another person-nothing else!
There has been speculation that Rihanna hit Brown as well. I have yet to be able to confirm this, but, in the rare case that it is true, it is not okay simply because she is a woman, and I do not want anyone to feel that I would be justifying that behavior either, however 95 percent of incidents reported are committed by males.
Many accused Rihanna of being stupid or naive when it was reported that she wanted to continue the relationship. It is pure myth to say that it is easy to break up with an abusive partner due to a vast amount of reasons, and this shifts the blame back onto the person being abused. Not only does a woman attempt to leave, on average, 13 times, but also, the risk of violence and danger increases by 70 percent.
While it is difficult to come out of an abusive relationship, there are common signs of what one may look like in the early stages. If your partner tends to be overly jealous, embarrass you in front of family or friends, use guilt or intimidation as control tactics, hit walls or throw things, hurt your pet, accuse you of infidelity, blame you for their actions or emotions, or threaten suicide if you end the relationship, then seeking help before things escalate to physical violence is a wise decision. However, these are not the ONLY signs, and if other things cause you to fear that this is the direction, in which your relationship is headed, seek professional help to confirm or deny your feelings. You or someone you know confronting the potential abuser is not a safe idea, and only puts you in the way of more potential danger.
Contrary to popular belief, there are positive and healthy relationships as well. Signs of these are equality, trust, communication, and feeling safe. Domestic violence is prevalent among college-aged people, and it is a very real issue. The 20 percent of college men and women that reported being involved in a physically violent and intimate relationship while in college can attest to this fact.
This article was not written with the intentions of bashing Chris Brown, Rihanna, or their families for how the situation was handled. I need the students on our campus to know about and understand the seriousness of this issue, and how changing the culture of rape and violence will, in turn, change the domestic violence rates. If you or someone you know has survived, or are currently involved in a relationship in which someone is being abused, please do not hesitate to contact myself, or the N.C State University Women’s Center for further help and support. You are not alone.
For more information about these issues, please contact Adrianna at firstname.lastname@example.org.