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DISTURBIA: Rihanna and Chris Brown Prove Domestic Abuse Knows No Boundaries… March 13, 2009

Posted by aetiusromulous in Commentary, Uncategorized.
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burbfam-240x238-brandI was shocked when it was reported that pop star Rihanna had been physically assaulted by boyfriend and fellow celebrity singer, Chris Brown. I listened to the 911 calls and like everyone, was sickened by the photos of her injuries splashed all over the Internet.

Shock turned to sadness and disappointment, however, when I heard she had reunited with Brown, despite the experts telling her if he hit you once, he’ll hit you again.

 I’m not only sad for Rihanna, but for the millions of young girls who idolize her as a role model. What does this tell them? Violence against women is OK?

 If anything good can come from such a tragic situation it is that once again, domestic abuse will come to the forefront. Oprah Winfrey has already aired a program for all the ‘Rhiannas’ out there who are in an abusive relationship and don’t know where to turn for help. It’s something we think will never happen to us or our daughters and sisters, until it does.

 I don’t have to look far to see the affects of domestic abuse on the average family. Our friend’s daughter dropped out of university because she was being beaten and terrorized by her live in boyfriend. Another family almost lost their daughter when she was strangled and left for dead by an ex-boyfriend, who then committed suicide. I know a woman who is currently stashing money away to eventually make her escape, after enduring years of mental abuse at the hands of her husband. He is a hard working, church-going man. No one would suspect what goes on behind closed doors.   

 The statistics are staggering. The American Institute on Domestic Violence says: 

  • 85-95% of all domestic violence victims are female.
  • Over 500,000 women are stalked by an intimate partner each year.
  • 5.3 million women are abused each year.
  • 1,232 women are killed each year by an intimate partner.
  • Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women.

 These facts, and the fact that one half of wife-beaters also regularly assault and abuse their children, is even more reason for everyone to become involved. Children that are abused often become abusive parents. We need to break the cycle.

 If someone you know exhibits signs of abuse, as listed below, get involved! Imagine if it was happening to your daughter or sister, wouldn’t you want someone to reach out to them? 

  • o Frequent injuries, often explained away as ‘accidents’
  • o Frequent and sudden absences from work or school
  • o Frequent harassing phone calls from the partner
  • o Fear of the partner, references to the partner’s anger
  • o Personality changes (outgoing person becomes withdrawn)
  • o Excessive fear of conflict
  • o Submissive behavior, lack of assertiveness
  • o Isolation from friends and family
  • o Insufficient resources to live
  • o Depression, crying, low self-esteem

 Reporting domestic abuse is a start but you can take it a step further by volunteering with a telephone help-line or a shelter for abused women and children in your area. At the very least, consider donating items they are in need of to start a new life.

 Although women and children are most frequently the victims in domestic abuse cases, men are victims too. I know of a woman who ridicules her husband constantly and has been known to throw things at him. Because the offender is a woman, we tend to shrug it off. Men are less likely to report abuse because of the stigma attached, making it more difficult to gather statistics on male abuse.

 Although we’ve seen that justice does not always prevail (OJ Simpson comes to mind), reporting our suspicions of abuse to police is important. Urge your local government officials to fight for funding of organizations established to help women escape abusive relationships and regain their independence.

As shocking as the Rihanna case is, it reminds us that domestic abuse knows no boundaries and could very well be happening to someone you know. I think the single most important thing we can do is to offer our support and understanding to victims. It’s very easy to think we know what we would do in their situation, but you really can’t know until you walk in their shoes.

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