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Celebrity Domestic Violence - Chris Brown and Rihanna

Updated on March 15, 2013

Domestic Violence in the Public Eye

When we hear the term "domestic violence" we often picture the stereotypical battered housewife, locked away in a house somewhere out of the public eye. Yet abuse can happen to anyone, anywhere, no matter what the circumstances.

It happens to men and women of all nationalities and economic status.

We were reminded of this fact recently when the images of pop-princess Rhianna appeared in the news after her boyfriend Chris Brown savagely beat her.

It's easy to imagine that the life of a celebrity is perfect, but now and then we are reminded that their lives aren't all that far removed from our own. Celebrities face many of the same issues the average person does, though it often plays out in a very public way.

According to the police reports, the couple was arguing over a text message he received from another woman. He beat her extensively in the head, face, and legs, bit her fingers, and left blood splattered on the inside of the vehicle. He had no visible injuries.

He immediately apologized publicly, and said he would seek help.

Thankfully, we live in an enlightened age where the public is well educated on the causes and effects of physical abuse, and have finally debunked many of the myths surrounding intimate partner violence...

Wait a minute...

How enlightened are we really?

(Photo: MTV Music Awards)

The Public Response

On one site after another I found shocking examples of how far we still have to go in educating the public about the realities of domestic violence.

From one site alone we find...

"Shame on Rihanna in fact! I know everything about it and Chris told me! How can you blame him?He told me everything and it's not his fault! It's Rihanna's jealousy who made Chris to ''attack'' her!If she wouldn't threw even his prom photos and fight fo"

"/: how did Rihanna do that to herself? But I do think she has something to do with what happened."

"i love chris brown he is human i mean no one can judge him until u walk in his shoes im a girl and o know how it is i have started many fights with my ex over calls or text its natural and that

angers any man CHRIS I LUV U STAY UP AND THINGS WILL GET BETT"

"guys are stupid girls are stupid and no one knows the whole story. its hard for me to believe its as bad as they say it is. yeah maybe he put hands on her but you know she is a lil crazy no one seen the interview of her fighting her brother and throwing "M/p>

"OMG! WE DON'T KNOW WHAT REALLY HAPPENED BETWEEN

THEM; ONLY THEM AND THEY NEED TO LET THE PUBLIC

KNOW SO PEOPLE AREN'T WRONGLY ACCUSED OF SHIT THAT

DIDN'T HAPPEN. THEY SHOULDN'T B LETTING RUMORS

THAT AREN'T TRUE DIMINISH PEOPLE'S CAREERS . MY

OPINION IS THEY BOTH NEED PUNISHMENT. THEY BOTH HIT EACH OTHER.

DOUBLE STANDARD WOMEN WOULD CRY IF SHO ON OTHER

FOOT. THEY BOTH RUNNING GAME. THEY ARE OBSTRUCTING

JUSTICE. I TOLD MY SON ONLY IF CAN'T GET OUT OF

WAY TO GET FREE AND SHE'S BEATING YOU TO DEATH

DEFEND YOU"

Many of the same myths that have allowed domestic violence to continue for so long are still prevalent in our society...

A little bit about the assault...

The full police report can be seen here... but here are some of the details.

...When he could not force her to exit he took his right hand and shoved her head against the passenger window of the vehicle... punched her in the left eye with right hand... drove away... continued to punch her in the face with his right hand while steering the vehicle with his left hand... caused [her] mouth to fill with blood and blood to splatter all over her clothing and the interior of the vehicle...

"I am going to beat the s-t out of you when we get home! You wait and see!?" ...

"You just did the stupidest thing ever! Now I really am going to kill you."

...resumed punching ... in attempt to protect her face and head from the barrage of punches... continued to punch [her] on her left arm and hands ... began applying pressure to [her] left and right carotid arteries causing her to be unable to breath ... She began to lose consciousness ... [he] bit her left ring and middle fingers... continued to punch her... continued to punch her on legs and feet...

Just so we have this straight, this was not a matter of a woman just being slapped around a little. This was a matter of out-and-out assault on the most severe level. Yet we can't really blame the people who supported Chris Brown as the victim, it just proves that as a victims' advocate we still have a long way to go in educating the public on the realities of abuse.

(photo TMZ: Police photo)

Myth #1 - The victim did something to provoke the violence.

Christopher B and Robyn F have been involved in a dating relations for approx 1 and half year. On Sunday Feb 8 at 25 hours Brown was driving a vehicle with Robyn F as the front passenger on an unknown street in Los Angeles. Robyn F picked brown,s cellular phone and picked up a three-page text message from a woman Brown had had a previous relationship with. A verbal argument ensued and Brown pulled a vehicle over in an unknown street.

In this case it was said that Rihanna had been invading Brown's privacy by peeking at his cell phone. She saw a provocative message from another woman and grew enraged. He merely reacted.

Since the topic here is responsibility, let's look at this another way. If a drunk driver is driving down the street and strikes you while you happen to be jaywalking, would you place all of the blame on yourself because you were in the wrong place? Would you insist they had no responsibility at all?

Highly unlikely.

If she did violate his privacy, then yes she is responsible for that. If she did lose her temper because of it then she is responsible for that as well. Her responsibility ends there.

By saying she provoked the abuse, you are also saying that anyone who is a victim of a crime deserved it. That someone who is mugged should not have been walking down the street, that someone who has their car stolen should not have had a nice car.

While she may have been able to handle the situation differently, he had that choice as well. Instead of walking away he chose to beat her extensively.

In a healthy relationship with healthy people, an incident like this is discussed without the use of violence, and a resolution is reached.

Period.

Myth #2 - The abuser just lost control of himself, he did not know what he was doing.

From the police report:

Robyn F turned to face Brown and he punched her in the left eye with right hand. He then drove away in the vehicle and continued to punch her in the face with his right hand while steering the vehicle with his left hand. The assault caused Robyn F O's mouth to fill with blood and blood to splatter all over her clothing and the interior of the vehicle. Brown looked at Robyn F and stated "I am going to beat the s-t out of you when we get home! You wait and see!"

While it certainly does appear that he lost control of himself, he managed to maneuver the vehicle with one hand while beating her with the other.

The myth here is difficult to disprove, but it isn't uncommon. While the abuser shows a lack of control in one area, they seem to maintain complete control in others.

Some learn to beat their victim only in places where the bruises will not show. If they lost control this would not be possible.

Some break things that belong to and are special to the victim, but leave their own possessions untouched in a tirade.

Some manage to contain their rage in the presence of others for hours, only to take it out on the victim when they are finally alone. Lack of control?

If he was in control of himself enough to steer a vehicle with one hand while beating her with another, he was in control enough to stop himself from hitting her in the first place.

He just chose not to.

Myth #3 - Some people deserve to be hit

Robyn F had advised Ford that she had been assaulted by Brown. At approx at 1 am Brown called Ford as nothing happened. Ford advised Brown that she had already talked to Robyn F and was aware of what happened. Ford had advised brown that the neighbors had called police and that they were with Robyn F. Brown had asked Ford if Robyn F had provided police with his name. And Ford advised him that she had. Brown hung up the telephone and did not call back.

Nobody deserves to be hit, ever!

There is no logical reason for one person to exercise that amount of control over another person. This comes from the archaic notion that people, once inside the confines of a relationship, become the property of another person, to control and do with what they please.

In a healthy relationship there is an equal balance of power, one person does not control the other in any way. The need to control another person is not present in a healthy human being with a solid self-esteem.

Abuse is a child-like response to adult circumstances.

An adult controls themselves, they do not feel the need to force another person to act or behave a certain way.

Myth #4 - If it was that bad they would leave

Reach over Robyn F with his right hand and open the car door and attempted to force her out. Brown was unable to force Robyn F out of the vehicle because she was wearing a seat belt. When he could not force her to exit he took his right hand and shoved her head against the passenger window of the vehcile causing an approx 1 inch raised circular contusion.

This is one of the most difficult myths to break. The average woman leaves her abuser 7 times before they leave for good. Some leave sooner, and some wait until it is too late.

To understand why a victim stays you must understand abuse on a psychological level. The psychological manipulation is always present, even when nobody realizes it. The abuser sets themselves up as the only source of certain things a victim needs, such as love, companionship, financial support, self-esteem, and so forth.

In a way, the abuser becomes both the drug and the only supplier. This is accomplished by convincing the victim that they cannot survive with out them. That nobody else will love them or care for them. That they are unable to take care of themselves. That they are too stupid or too ugly for anyone else to ever put up with them.

When we look at someone like Rihanna, we see a young, beautiful, talented, and successful woman in her own right. When she looks at herself she doesn't see that, for one reason or another she has been blinded. Perhaps the abuse started much younger, as a child even, but believe it or not celebrities are just as prone to low self-esteem as the rest of us, in fact more so in many ways.

A celebrity is dependent on a constant supply of affirmation from outside sources. They are all aware that fame is fickle; a few extra pounds, a poor decision, a drop in sales, and they quickly become yesterday's news. They go from being on top of the world to just another nobody.

To find someone then who professes to love you so much that they can't live without you, who will never leave you or abandon you, is a precious thing. While the average person believes that someone who loves them will never hit them, most aren't dealing with someone insisting that their abuse is just more proof of how strong their love is.

A victim leaves a relationship when they are ready, and only when they are ready.

Myth #5 - But abuse isn't really a crime

On Feb. 8, Brown turned himself in and was given a copy of the EPO and advised to not contact Robyn. On Feb. 17 Ford advised the affiant that she had received text messages from a number that Ford recognized as belonging to Brown. In the text message Brown apologized for what he had done to Robyn F. and advised Ford he was going to get help.

Actually, yes it is.

A crime is anything that is a danger to the public at large. Though people tend to believe that domestic violence is a personal matter, it affects all of us.

There were 1.7 million reported attacks on women in the workplace between 1993 and 1997, making homicide the second leading cause of death for women at work, after transportation accidents.

The health-related costs of rape, physical assault, stalking and homicide committed by intimate partners exceed $5.8 billion each year. Of that amount, nearly $4.1 billion are for direct medical and mental health care services, and nearly $1.8 billion are for the indirect costs of lost productivity or wages.

Someone who harms other people certainly is a danger to the public. That is why the crime is not prosecuted as Victim Vs. Abuser, but as The State Vs.The Abuser.

If the abuse were allowed to continue behind closed doors, the outcome is not good. Over 30% of women seeking medical care in emergency rooms are there because of abuse, while 30% of female murder victims are killed by an intimate partner.

Abuse is a real crime with real victims.

Stopping the cycle of abuse is up to us

Before we can stop abuse, we must educate. Many of the comments left on these sites were left by young girls and women who think that the abuse Rihanna suffered was justifiable.

We still have a lot of work to do when it comes to educating the public, not just our young women, but our men, and older people as well. Abuse is never okay, under any circumstances.

Thank you for taking the time to educate yourself, now please... pass it on. The teal and purple ribbon symbolizes domestic violence/sexual assault awareness. Add one to your site or lens today!

Graphics from www.umbrellafwtw.org

CHECKLIST - What is abuse?

(provided by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence)

Look over the following questions. Think about how you are being treated and how you treat your partner. Remember, when one person scares, hurts, or continually puts down the other person, it's abuse.

Does your partner:

____ Embarrass or make fun of you in front of your friends or family?

____ Put down your accomplishments or goals?

____ Make you feel like you are unable to make decisions?

____ Use intimidation or threats to gain compliance?

____ Tell you that you are nothing without them?

____ Treat you roughly - grab, push, pinch, shove or hit you?

____ Call, text, or email you several times a day or show up to make sure you are where you said you would be?

____ Use drugs or alcohol as an excuse for saying hurtful things or abusing you?

____ Blame you for how they feel or act?

____ Pressure you sexually for things you don't want to do?

____ Make you feel like there "is no way out" of the relationship?

____ Prevent you from doing things you want - like spending time with your friends or family?

____ Try to keep you from leaving after a fight or leave you somewhere after a fight to "teach you a lesson"?

Do you:

____ Sometimes feel scared of how your partner will act?

____ Constantly make excuses to other people for your partner's behavior?

____ Believe that you can help your partner change if only you changed something about yourself?

____ Try not to do anything that would cause conflict or make your partner angry?

____ Always do what your partner wants you to do instead of what you want?

____ Stay with your partner because you are afraid of what your partner would do if you broke-up?

If any of these are happening in your relationship, talk to someone. Without some help, the abuse will continue.

(Adapted from Reading and Teaching Teens to Stop Violence, Nebraska Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Coalition, Lincoln, NE).

If you or someone you know needs help...

Your area should have a crisis line or victim's hotline listed in the yellow pages. The people at the hotline can just be there to listen, or assist you in getting out if you are ready.

If you are concerned about a friend, encourage then to call the hotline as well. There are caring, compassionate, and educated people on the other end.

Leave a comment if you like.

Also if you happen to find any other common myths with regard to this case, please leave a comment and I will add it, thanks!

Speak out against domestic violence!

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    • profile image

      JeromeWilkins 6 years ago

      Domestic violence has always disgusted me. Most men who commit such shameful acts would not dare fight another man.

    • profile image

      George McCasland 6 years ago

      Another myth is that it is only, or even mostly female victims. Yet, that is what the media perpetuates. Of interest, the pitcher for the Anaheim Angels was battered by his wife, while they were driving, just prior to the Chris Brown case, yet it received no media attention. His now ex-wife is a major fashion model. All she got was two years probation.

      http://OtherFaceOfAbuse.org

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Scary stuff. Although not physical, I must admit that I dished out verbal abuse. I am now on medication that controls it. I wish that I would have been diagnosed earlier with Bipolar and been put on the correct medication before the age of 33. I am a different person now. However I do feel for the abuser in the respect that they may have a chemical imbalance in their brain which has not been diagnosed or medicated. I know for a fact that I could not control my verbal abuse, it was like a reflex, impossible to stop. However with medication, I am in total control. Life changing control.

    • profile image

      richstep 8 years ago

      Thought-provoking lens - as a society, we must find a way to imbue our children with the tenet of zero tolerance to domestic violence. Children exposed to DV are more likely to be perpetrators when they become adults. This generational vicious cycle has to be permanently broken.

    • luvmyludwig lm profile image

      luvmyludwig lm 8 years ago

      This lens is amazing! This subject is so important. I can't believe people feel that way!

    • VBright profile image

      VBright 8 years ago

      Excellent and informative lens. You've been blessed by an Angel for this one.

    • mysticmama lm profile image

      Bambi Watson 8 years ago

      excellent lens...very important subject...5*