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March 16, 2009

CHRIS BROWN AND RIHANNA BRING TO LIGHT THE TRAGEDY OF RELATIONSHIP VIOLENCE: WHO’S TO BLAME?

Following an alleged incident between Chris Brown and Rihanna, the Boston Public Health Commission surveyed 200 youth ages 12-19.  The results:

  • 71% said arguing was a normal part of a relationship
  • 44% said fighting was a normal part of a relationship
  • 51% said Chris Brown was responsible for the incident
  • 46% said Rihanna was responsible for the incident
  • 52% said both individuals were to blame for the incident, despite knowing at the time that Rihanna had been beaten badly enough to require hospital treatment
  • 35% said the media were treating Rihanna unfairly
  • 52% said the media were treating Chris Brown unfairly

“In addition, a significant number of males and females in the survey said Rihanna was destroying Chris Brown’s career, and females were no less likely than males to come to Rihanna’s defense.” (http://www.bphc.org/news/press_release_content.asp?id=473)

First and foremost, let me be clear, that violence in relationships IS NOT NORMAL.  It’s abusive, toxic and tragic.  Physical fighting in relationships is NOT okay…it’s abusive!  Period.  If violence is occurring in your relationship…you are in a VERY unhealthy relationship; I’m very sorry no one taught you this.   

What I believe was so confusing about Rihanna and Chris Brown, however, was that Rihanna supposedly hit Chris first.  Many teens believe that he then had the right to fight back.  Chris did have the right to stop her from hurting him; he did not have the right to pummel her face until it bled.  Rihanna should never have touched Chris in anger (no one should--male or female), but in no way did her actions give Chris the green light to assault her back.  He had the right to: stop the car, ask her to get out, hold her arms until she stopped swinging at him, end the relationship due to her behavior…and a thousand other --non-abusive-- interventions.  Instead, he allegedly chose to pummel his girlfriend until she bled and feared for her safety.  He then purportedly chose to threaten her even more if she told the police. 

THIS IS NOT NORMAL.  THIS IS NOT OK

If Chris’ career is destroyed, it is 100% because of HIS CHOICES.  Surely Rihanna did not grab his fist and punch her own face, nor  force him to threaten her.  What Chris did, he did ALL on HIS own.  He’s responsible for his actions;. He’s accountable for the consequences resulting from his actions.  And if his career suffers as a result, then perhaps he should have thought about that before he reportedly chose to beat his girlfriend. 

Parents need to talk to their teenagers about dating violence.  Mothers and fathers need to teach their daughters that they deserve to be treated well by all people, at all times…and should be treated best by those closest to them.  They also need to be clear that girls do not have the right to hit anyone in anger…no matter how mad they get. 

Mothers and fathers also need to talk to their sons and tell them they need to treat women with respect and NEVER hit a female.  If the young women are reactive…the young men have the right to choose to be with someone who has healthier reactions and is more centered or insist that the young woman seek help for her anger/reactivity. They do not have the right to be abusive.  All men, women and children need to be taught that violence is NOT NORMAL. 

According to the media, Chris and Rihanna witnessed violence when they were young.  This is not surprising since we often live what we learn.  If you’re a parent and you’re in a violent relationship that your children are witness to…you are teaching your children that violence is normal.  You are teaching your children to live violent lives.  You are passing on the violence from one generation to another.  STOP IT.  I don’t care if “he’s a great guy”…great guys don’t beat women. Period.  Get help and stop passing on a toxic legacy from one generation to the next.  Your children deserve better, you deserve better, and our world deserves better.

NOTE: If you’re in a violent relationship and you have children who live in your home…they ARE witnessing it—even if you think they don’t “see” it.

CHALLENGE:  If you are in a violent relationship, get help.  If your friend, teenager, co-worker or family member is in a violent relationship, do NOT condone the violence…under ANY circumstances.  Instead, tell the person to get help or get out of the relationship.  Domestic Violence Hotline: (800) 799-7233.

 

 

Comments

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This is a good article. Especially how the force of emotions are very powerful to the point that any people polled would have to feel something stir when asked the question. It is a good question. One would likely respond based on their own relationship experience. I think about the constant need to re-iterate to one another the need to overcome anger with a different kind of behavior, no matter what age, The power behind emotions can be gentle strength or brute force..it can make or break a person. Consider what causes this kind of behavior to emerge in the first place..What are the stress factors? Life experiences we all grapple with at some point..Were intoxicants involved? Dishonesty? or some other lesser insult happening inside of the relationship festering like a low grade fever?...This is what happens when people are not in their "right" mind. (For whatever the reason is as it presents itself) It can happen to any of us to encounter a form of madness in moments when we could somehow lose touch with the mutual reality at hand..especially when in the throes of deep crisis because that's what it feels like when one's life partner/relationship is threatened. It can be a very desperate feeling regardless of one's perceived level of well-being and walk in life. Thank you for helping bring clear information for the sake of all of those who are ever in this situation.

Amen, sister!
I have taken this as an opportunity to talk to my daughter about this kind of violence and she agrees that Rihanna is making a poor decision going back to Chris.
I know none of us know what happened, etc. but there is no situation that could have happened to make this okay.
Wonderful article on a very current issue!

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