Rihanna and Chris Brown: My Story of Domestic Violence

As the sad saga of Rhianna and Chris Brown continues, I reflect on my own experience with abuse


My Story of Domestic Violence

As the sad saga of Rihanna and Chris Brown continues …


Rihanna Chris BrownWhen people talk about domestic abuse, it’s inevitable that one of the first things out of anyone’s mouth will be, “why doesn’t she just leave?”

The answer: It’s not that simple.

In case you’ve been living under a rock (or somewhere without internet access), just three weeks after he was arrested for bashing her about the face, choking her until she lost consciousness, and running off into the night, leaving her bruised and bloody, Chris Brown has managed to convince Rihanna to forgive him. According to People Magazine, the two are currently reconciling at one of P. Diddy’s homes on Miami Beach’s Star Island. A friend of the singer’s told Us magazine, “She’s not listening to anyone. And of course Puff got involved in this.”

When people condemn battered women as stupid or weak-willed, they don’t get how the whole thing gets started. Nobody slaps you on the first date. Certainly my abusive boyfriend – who was also my first-ever boyfriend – waited until he knew I was madly in love with him before he tried anything.

Abusers are insidious. They begin with a subtle campaign of undermining, designed to break you down emotionally before they begin slapping you around physically. I already came from a background where my mom beat me up fairly regularly. In fact, my little sister’s first memory is of her kicking my then-three-year-old ass. So I suppose I was easy prey.

Sorry seems to be the hardest word . . .

I’m not surprised that Rihanna returned to Brown. Do you have any idea how humiliating it is to admit that the man you love beats you up? She’s probably searching for an explanation and I’m betting she’s blaming herself. After all, people she considered friends have come out defending her batterer. Their pal Diddy didn’t offer to pay for therapy (that we know of), he just gave Brown a secluded place to start up the cycle of abuse again.

Isolation is one of the key elements to domestic abuse.

Another friend of theirs said, “Chris is all right. He’s a good kid. He feels very bad that something like this has happened.”

Something like this has happened?!?!? Oopsie! You’d think he spilled wine on her sofa!

Brown’s spokesperson used similarly ambiguous language.

“While Chris is reflective and saddened about what happened, he is really happy to be with the woman he loves.” Again, about what happened. That’s how you describe nearly murdering a woman?

Batterers rarely take responsibility for their actions, but at the same time, they’re capable of amazing apologies. I personally fielded tears, flowers, promises and declarations of love from mine. As Chris Brown is loaded, I’m sure he’s supplementing his crocodile tears and soon-to-be broken promises with expensive baubles.

Family affair . . .

Like Brown, my boyfriend had enablers who excused his behavior. Shockingly, my BF’s helpers were his family. I remember one night, after a horrific beating (which his parents witnessed), I begged his father to keep his son in the house so I could make it back to my place in one piece. A couple blocks from my house, I heard footsteps behind me. So instead of just being assaulted that evening, I was also raped.

I don’t know for sure that his father beat up their mom, but they certainly seemed fairly blasé about their kid’s crimes. They certainly never called my parents about it. I know my mom and dad suspected I was being beaten, but my mother’s MO was to scream that I was a stupid slut and hit me some more, so I kept my mouth shut.

Rihanna’s dad is taking a lot of heat because he told a reporter, “I love my daughter with whatever road she takes. I’m behind her win or lose. I will be supportive. If that’s the road she wants to choose, I’m behind her. I hope to see her soon.” Though the press is twisting that so it appears that he condones his daughter’s decision to return to Brown, in my humble opinion he said exactly the right thing. What Rihanna needs right now is to know that the people who truly love her, will be there for her when she needs them. I’m sure he’d like to beat Brown within an inch of his life, but saying that right now, will only further alienate his daughter.

So again, why didn’t she leave?

For one thing, the most dangerous time for a battered woman is when she’s thinking of leaving. For another, batterers tend to alienate their prey from their support system, making them feel completely isolated. In my case, my abuser told me – and I believed him – that he would kill me, murder my entire family and then kill himself. In Rihanna’s case, he’s got her out on an island and, according to gossip columnist Janet Charlton, “Chris convinced Rihanna that it was HER fault for MAKING him mad and he lost control because he loves her SO much.” Disgusting and probably true.

After two and a half terrifying, painful years, I eventually escaped my abuser, but only after I decided that even if nobody ever loved me again (and I truly believed this would be the case) that at least I would be alive to possibly make something of my life. Though it’s been many years, writing about my abuse is excruciating, because, in a way, I still blame myself for “letting” it happen.

I hope it takes Rihanna less time than it took me.

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0 thoughts on “Rihanna and Chris Brown: My Story of Domestic Violence

  1. As a society, we too often blame the victim for their actions or inactions, especially in circumstances of violence against women. Those who still ask the question, “why doesn’t she just leave,” seem only to show their over-expired ignorance on the issue.

  2. I doubt that this is the first time it’s happened,(the abuse that is, he just got caught) but I bet it keeps happening. To the author; You’ve written my life with your words, but I’m still stuck. I hope that Rihanna can break this cycle, and some more dishes too.

  3. I’m not surprised Rihanna made up with Chris Brown, and most likely will use the phrase that just about every victim of an abuser gives for staying; “But I love him”. Too many men and women who are abused in relationships(like the author above so eloquently and truthfully stated)will stay because they are convinced by the abuser(and often family mambers)that they “caused it”, and if they just “went along with the program”, there would never be a reason to be hit. Even worse are the family and friends who tell them the “If you don’t leave, you deserve everything you get from now on.”
    I’m proud of her father for statng that he loves Rihanna, will stand behind his child and support her. The press loves to twist words and make something out of nothing. What can he do? She is a 21 year old adult who has to make her own decisions, and nothing he says will matter until she decides to do something. What I really am angry at is Sean Combs providing a secluded place(an island!)in order for Brown to convince her it was HER fault(a natural thing) for the whole situation! SHE made him angry, causing him to hit her, instead of acting like he had sense and WALKING AWAY and cooling off. I pray like the above poster that someone who really loves and cares about Rhianna will either give her the link to this article and comments or print it out for her. The is nothing like hearing from another abuse survivor about the road she’s chosen to walk. Her only salvation is that she is in the public eye, and that every move he makes will be watched by many. Many victims don’t have that kind of luck.

  4. Amen, sister.
    I signed up to this website just to reply to you post. Thank you SO much for writing this. At some points I could’ve sworn this article was written by me.
    My first real relationship was abusive, much like what you described. Things happened exactly like you said. He waited until i loved him madly before he hurt me. He alienated me from my friends and family, and he destroyed my already low self-esteem (due to depression). I never thought I’d read something like this…
    Thank you just for understanding what this whole horrible cycle is like and not blaming the victim. I have heard so many people blame me for what happened, when I was only 15 when the whole thing started.
    Reading this article has really made my day. I just wanted to say thank you, for being brave and strong enough to write this and talk about your experience, and explain how abuse REALLY happens.

  5. Dear Anonyomus Betty,
    That was a really thought provoking response, people don’t often realize that abuse is at times another type of hinderance. As hinderance towards being able to set reasonable boundaries, and the fray becomes strained, as to where the road of love becomes the road of hatred. I have to use the word hatred, because when you think of the word hatred, you can coujuer up images of hitting something. Have you ever gotten so mad about something that you wish you could hit something or somebody? A stupid comment, someone snickering behind your back, some thing some one says about a family member, there are many instances in the course of a day that we learn to ignore or we answer back with less than a plaeasnt tone. When it comes to couples, or people who know each other intimately, it is easy to snap, we know the habits of our loves, our children, our parents. How many times can people say insidious things with out thinking? Many, why do Mothers get into with their daughters? Stupid comments, your mom calling you a slut is a deep one, that is definitely painful, my mom did that when I was at that age, of just wanting to run. No responsibility, do I understand today as the parent of a turbulent almost 17 year old daughter? You bet, do I think it was right hell no. It hurts, and that is what we are reacting to, maybe our behavior was a little promiscuious, would that have been better, if mom had stoped short of using such a strong word and said, “honey” I think your being a promiscuious. I don’t know if that would have mattered, at those teen times, young men and young women have genes that become like conquistodors. They are full of beauty, full of zest, and life has just begun. That is the cycle, how many of us are aware of that? Not many, for most the assult of old age, menopause, drying up, becoming older, is a reaity.
    In the case with Chris Brown and Rihanna, it is highly predictable that one will want to establish boundary control, usually the male starts with not wanting his woman to go out alone, out of fear something will happen, something like what? She will find another suitor, that is his fear, not that she will be victimized or raped, godforbid, that is another subject, that is criminal, someone will hopefully pay. He coudn’t protect her from that, no more than she could protect him, from an unspuspecting female who would make a move on him, regardless of knowing that he was allready taken. Common sense warrants that what we care about, we don’t want any one else to touch. But in the case where these two have constant pressure, and cannot be worried about fiances, I am sure both are well off. Money is not the problem, it is a matter of too much party, too much competition, too much press, too much, too much of everything. Many people that lead public lives litterally owe everything to the fans, that buy their music. These people end up living lives in glass bubbles, life becomes too stressfull. There has to be a better way to break down barriers of communication, but for the many who are not well off, abuse takes many many unpleasant turns. Leaving a house is bad news for both the abuser and victim. Money becomes a serious concern, so much so that people turn to desperate acts. People need to have numbers available, to help cope when things are not as pleasant, and the picket fence that we hoped for, now seems like a fort, that we cannot escape from. It is difficult for both the man who strikes a woman, even if he dosen’t realize what he’s done is wrong, it is worse. He may have all the argument clear in his mind, but his attitude and his emotional state of mind our out of balance. Is it societys responsibility to help men be able to balance these emotions better? Some might say no, but I beg to differ. Even where homes have decent incomes and both parties are working and responsible, there can be other underlying problems, borning times, no partnership, stagnant relations, weight gain, there are so many stressors that do not allow us to enjoy intimacy as we once did. I hope you keep writing about abuse it is a a very vital subject and one that needs to keep being discussed for the sake of both men and women, and our young people who obviously follow us down this ugly path. Peace to All

  6. It doesn’t matter how much money or fame you have, you are still you inside. I came from an abusive childhood and it made me a victim. Why did I stay for 33 years, because he was the only one who never deserted me. I was deserted many times in my childhood and it made me believe that I was unlovable so I was better off with something rather than nothing. It took years but I know now that I am worth as much as any other person on earth and just let anyone try to say different! They will get theirs if they do. lol I applaud you, Anon Betty! I wish I could have broke away as quickly as you did. I hope young girls read these and take heed. Love does not hurt!

  7. Thank you so much for writing this. You took the word’s right out of my head that I couldn’t quite get out of my mouth when a friend or even my mom share their opinions about this situation between Rihanna and Chris Brown. It’s actually hurtful to me when friends make comments calling her stupid or weak or crazy – they seem to think shes completely oblivious and even “retarded” as one friend said.. just because she is rich and famous and could most likely have any man she wants, and one that will treat her better. Because of my history with an abusive relationship that I stayed in for a very long time I take these kind of comments very personally and it is so incredibly difficult to explain to someone why or even how you stayed in that relationship. Maybe I can show some of my friends this article now to help them better understand why I’m so defensive of Rihanna (even though I’m not big on hollywood news or whatever you call it.) I do know that no one will completely understand, however, unless they have lived through it themselves. Thanks again!!

  8. I volunteered/took part in a domestic violence support group put on by a women’s shelter in Phoenix. There were women from every walk of life, from the streets to millionaires. The ONE THING their abusers had in common? They all seemed too good to be true. They were not monsters that pulled wings off butterflies. They were wonderful, caring individuals until when one day, out of the blue, came the first attack. Then after the stunned and disbelieving reaction of the woman, the abuser cried and abjectly begged her forgiveness. “I don’t know what came over me! If only you hadn’t done (or been) blah blah blah I NEVER would have blah blah blah!” The abuser then became even more wonderful, showering the woman with attention and gifts and reassuring the woman how much he loved her…until the next attack. People who knew the men didn’t believe they were capable of such acts; in fact when confronted with evidence, the usual reactions were “What on earth did you do to make him act that way?” or “I would have left/called the cops/hit him with a frying pan blah blah blah”. It’s EMBARASSING when your dream man acts crazy, and it’s even more embarassing when you stay or go back.You want to believe that maybe you did something to provoke it, because then it’s something you can control; something you can change; something you can do to keep this wonderful man you’ve come to love. We all told one another our stories and they all sounded the same except possibly for the variety of the abuse. I know it sounds crazy on the outside of this situation but until you’ve been there, please don’t judge; offer your friend your love and support. If you are too judgemental, your friend will feel so humiliated she will feel that you are someone she can no longer turn to for help.

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