I’m Sorry We Had That Fight Just Now, You Know. I Mean I Said Some Things, You Said Some Things, But I Think We’ve Moved Past It.

I’ll be the first to admit it — I had no idea who Chris Brown, the singer, was until just recently.  The only Chris Brown I knew of was the former Tennessee Titans running back.  As the people who know me can well attest, my music tastes are not exactly “cutting edge”, so it’s no surprise that Brown the performer had slipped way, way under my radar.

At least until he made news on February 8 when he was arrested under suspicion of making criminal threats, and also falling under investigation for domestic violence charges.  The incident that led to his run-in with the law was an argument with fellow singer and girlfriend, Rihanna — an argument that turned violent enough that the 21-year old Grammy winner was left looking like she needed to hire a cutman and a trainer to join her public relations team.

Domestic violence is serious business, and a quick look at some facts bear that out.  Note the following stats regarding domestic violence that can be found here on the American Bar Association’s website:

1.3 million women and 835,000 men are physically assaulted by an intimate partner in the U.S. annually

Intimate partner violence made up 20% of all non-fatal violent crime suffered by women in 2001

African-Americans suffered at a significantly higher rate than persons of any other race between 1993 and 1998. Black females experienced intimate partner violence at a rate 35% higher than that of white females, and about 22 times that of the rate of women of other races.

But don’t quote those numbers to Rihanna, as she has already reunited with Brown, according to sources.  Fans of the female singer — as well as members of her immediate family, apparently — have greeted this news with less than a joyous reaction.  And who can blame them?  Brown claims he’s sorry, and that he’s committed to becoming a “better person” — but those are just words, which at this point, pale in comparison to his alleged actions of physically assaulting someone not his physical equal.  I would imagine that most victims of domestic violence would be more than happy to tell their stories of how many times they heard from their partner that “it’ll never happen again” — and how often that actually turned out to be the case.

In my own experience, I had a very close friend many years ago whose husband abused her when she was married, and threatened her after she left him.  And yet, there had been times when, from her own viewpoint and in her own words, the abuse had been her fault.  As frustrated as I’ve been in my life before and since with any number of things that aren’t in my control, there may never be anything I’ll experience that will ever drive me to exasperation as much as hearing her say meekly, “It wasn’t his fault.”

I can only wonder — is that what Rihanna is saying to the people around her right now?  Is that what she’s saying to herself?  And does she believe it?

What makes the whole situation even more unfortunate is that Brown himself has been a first-hand witness to domestic violence.   There’s strong opinions about the existence of a cycle that leads those who’ve experienced abuse to become the abusers themselves;  whether or not this is the case with Brown, no one — maybe not even Brown himself — could say for certain.

For now, I’m going to spare both of the participants of this scuffle any sympathy.  Since I don’t have a psychology degree, in lieu of it I’ll make life easier for myself and just give the singing pair a joint Ro-Sham-Bo Award to share.  It’s not a Grammy, but they’re both easy picks.  Brown gets his part for his amateur boxer impression, and while I won’t question whether or not Rihanna was a victim — certainly she was — she gets her share of the award because she had an opportunity to use her celebrity to make a strong statement about the unacceptable nature of what she went through  — and did not.  Instead, her submissive return to Brown’s side so quickly makes her look not only like a person in denial, but also a whole lot like a woman I once knew who deserved a lot better than what she accepted for herself.

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