Two Voices Separated By 1 Generation
It Will Never Happen Again- If international pop star, Rihanna, can forgive her pop star boyfriend, Chris Brown, why shouldn't I?
A few weeks ago Chris was charged with severely beating Rihanna and pictures were released to prove it. This happened on the eve of the Grammy's, an event that is probably the most important night in the music industry. Allegedly, the incident began over a text message. How does an argument escalate from a text message to the bloody beating of a 20 year old girl by a 19 year old boy? Personally, I cannot imagine that sort of drastic leap. I mean, not only was she black and blue, but he also bit her. Days after the event, renowned music producers and artists dropped Chris from their upcoming products. The outpouring of support from all over the globe was heartwarming and I was so proud of our society for doing the right thing. For once, celebrities were being made an example of for doing the wrong thing and there would be consequences for their actions. I was proud that is, until I found out along with the rest of the world that Rhianna was getting back together with Chris. A pang of anger went through the pit of my stomach at the same moment as my disappointment and fear for her life.
When I was in high school and college, I knew too many girls that were being abused in their relationships. Only a few that were physically abused, but far too many that were being emotionally abused. It was easy to be an outsider and tell these girls that they were too good to be putting up with this behavior, but it was another thing altogether to realize that I was in an emotionally abusive relationship myself. Only once, in high school, did a boy grab my arm too hard. That was the last time he ever did that, and in my brain, I secretly hoped, that was the last time he was able to use his genitalia again. (Insert knee into groin, and wince.) But for over five years, I let myself be baited into arguments that would end in tears and low self esteem.
Why did I do that? Why was I unable to hear the words of encouragement and outrage coming from the people I love? My theory is that this person made me feel special at times, but not all the time. Maybe it had to do with my biological father leaving my life completely at 16. But could that really be the answer? My little sister was in an emotionally abusive relationship at age 17, and my step-father, her biological superhero, was all but doting. So where does that impulse come from? Why do we deem ourselves worthy only of these men? I thank my lucky stars that I will never have to deal with that again. I'd like to think I am wiser now. I would never allow that kind of behavior around me or anyone I loved. Perhaps that is only due to the fact that I have a boyfriend that cherishes me, all the time, no matter what. But, while I am one of the lucky ones, millions of young girls are being taken advantage of. Other than words of experience, how else do we stop this from happening over and over again? How do we change history?
Oprah made a live statement on her show last week, that I think sums it up perfectly:
"Love doesn't hurt. I've been saying this to women for years- love doesn't hurt. And if he hits you once, he will hit you again. He will hit you again. I don't care what he plea it, he will hit you again."
BUT I LOVE HIM.....
The statistics are alarming. . .Approximately 5.3 million women are physically assaulted by an intimate partner every year in the United States.
Over 2,000 women were killed this year by someone they thought loved them.
What is even more unbelievable is that it has only been 20 years since the first battered women's shelter opened in St. Paul, Minnesota and only 1,500 exist for abused women today (compared to 3,800 animal shelters). Historically, wife abuse occurred frequently; however, because women were considered property these crimes were not taken seriously. The public outcry over Chris Brown beating Rihanna is a big indication that the times have changed when it comes to accepting this outrageous behavior. But I have two questions 1. Are people more upset over Chris beating her? or 2. Are people more upset because Rihanna has gone back to him?
I believe people are most shocked over Rihanna putting herself back in a situation that, more than likely, will cause her harm again. I was not surprised. I've known hundreds of Rihanna's.
Elizabeth asked wonderful questions in her blog. Why do men hurt women they love? Why do women stay or go back to these men? During my years as a mental health counselor I have seen this pattern over and over with clients. Some I have helped and some I haven't. Helping women gain enough self esteem to give them the courage to leave a violent man is hard.
Abuse knows no color, no socio-economic level, and no age limit.
And while most abusers and victims grew up in abusive homes
some did not. I have had parents come to me crying about their daughters being in horrible relationships who were gentle and loving to these girls. They are filled with fear for their daughter and perhaps their grandchildren. They look for reasons within their family unit and none can be found. And then there are the women who were raised in a violent home. These couples continue the problem by raising their children in the same environment in which they grew up in because that is what is familiar to them. And we, on the outside, wonder. Why does she stay? Women in abusive relationships do not leave immediately because of cultural beliefs, lack of economic security, and personal fears. Some of these fears include never being loved again, being stalked or killed by their abusive partner, and losing custody of her children to the man who has been hurting them all. These women have very little self esteem and believe the lies being told to them. "You make me do this to you". "No one will ever love you like I do". And the biggest lie of all "I'm sorry. I promise baby, it will never happen again. I love you". As for the men, well, there are some who have been raised in loving homes but most of them have not. Men who have grown up in an abusive home are bursting with anger at having been controlled and treated inferior their entire childhood and now feel powerful expressing this rage toward their own family. And so it continues.
To stop this cycle of violence and abuse every man, woman, and child must be educated and assured of their value and worth as human beings. I realize this is a very short answer to a very long standing problem but it's the truth. Not until this is done will we be a society of people who can truly love each other, help each other, and do unto others as we would like others to do unto us. This sense of value, of course, begins at home. But it must also be in our schools, our places of worship, and in our media. Rhianna, even though I do not know you I've met you before. And I'm begging you, for the sake of women everywhere, don't believe the lies. Believe in yourself and stay away.
Deedra Hunter is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and Narrative Life Coach in Winter Park, FL. She has over 20 years of experience serving her clients needs and has also published a book called; Winning Custody: A Woman’s Guide to Retaining Custody of Her Children.
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