Hollywood rumors shed light on relationship abuse


Feature photo by Asa Lory

Anna Wright

Photo Illustration by Asa Lory
Photo Illustration by Asa Lory
Recently, a myriad of tabloids exploded with juicy celebrity headlines splashed over scandalous black and white photos on the glossy covers of magazines, detailing the renewing of a romantic relationship between R&B star Chris Brown and his former girlfriend and domestic abuse victim Rihanna.
Hollywood whispers weave amongst the star-struck population of America, begging the jaw-dropping question of whether or not a famously portrayed strong and independent woman could really be once again entering into the black hole of abuse with Mister “forgiving all my haters (even though they really all have the right to hate me since I’m a raging self-indulgent woman-beater).”
Regardless of whether or not the rumors are true and the couple really did spend New Years canoodling beneath the black and white, polka-dotted comforter that they were both pictured with on Instagram, the hypothetical rekindling of this passionate and dangerous flame disgusts me to the core.
It’s not just sad in the sense that this beautiful, supposedly headstrong woman is submitting herself to the same man who, only three years earlier, told her “I’m going to beat the sh– out of you when we get home! You wait and see! … Now I’m really going to kill you!”, proceeding only then to begin “punching her in the face and arms. He then placed her in a head lock positioning the front of her throat between his bicep and forearm. Brown began applying pressure to [Rihanna’s] left and right carotid arteries, causing her to be unable to breathe and she began to lose consciousness,” according to the incident’s official police report.
This alone should be enough to stop anyone in their tracks, seeing as on a larger scale, Rihanna — a public figure with a vast realm of social and cultural influence in a variety of age groups — is relaying a clear message saying “Hey, if a guy beats the living h— out of you, leaving multiple gruesome contusions across your face and body, it’s probably okay to just forget about it and date him again in a few years.” Its just domestic violence, ya know. No big deal.
But it is a big deal. Physically abusive relationships are a serious matter and should be treated accordingly, especially by someone whose personal decisions have such massive potential to shape the societal stigma surrounding such a subject. Girls as young as 11 or 12, who jammed out in their moms’ minivans to Rihanna’s feel-good hits such as “Rockstar” and “Pon de Replay”, are now watching their idolized female figure jump right back into the arms of her abuser. This sends out a message to today’s youth that physical abuse in relationships is “normal,” socially-acceptable and easily forgivable. These wistful young girls may be unaware that girls and young women between the ages of 16 and 24 experience the highest rate of intimate partner violence — almost triple the national average, or that half of youth who have been victims of both dating violence and rape attempt suicide, according to loveisrespect.org.
Although the possibility of this relationship starting up again is mainly pertinent to Rihanna’s personal affairs, she is not the only one being affected.  Impressionable young girls who view Rihanna as a celebrity role model may be influenced by her decision to go back to the man who abused her, thus spreading the mindset that this sort of pattern is acceptable.
Unfortunately, the trend of women re-entering abusive relationships is not uncommon. According to domesticabuseshelter.org, a woman, on average,  will leave an abusive relationship seven times before she leaves for good. This is not acceptable. As members of society, our words and actions all contribute to the stigma surrounding relationship abuse.
It is because of public cases such as Brown and Rihanna that women are taught that it is okay to stay with someone who physically harms them, rather than realizing that the pattern will likely continue and that about 4,000 women die each year due to domestic violence (domesticabuseshelter.org). According to the site, 30 percent of Americans say they know a woman who has been physically abused by her husband in the past year. That means that, hypothetically, about one in three women knows someone who is undergoing the violence endured by Rihanna in 2009.
If we speak out against abuse and remind our loved ones that these kind of relationships are dangerous and unhealthy, maybe there will be one less woman crawling back into the fists of her abuser, loving the way he lies.
By Anna Wright
This opinion piece is labeled as such on the desktop version.
Is the possibility of Rihanna going back to Chris Brown sending the wrong message to society’s youth?  Should the couple call it quits for good?