The American Institute on Domestic Violence states that each year, 5.3 million women are abused and 1,232 are killed by their partner. According to a 2002 study at Tuffs University, the number one killer of African American woman between the ages of 15-35 is homicide at the hands of a current or former intimate partner. The statistics of domestic violence against African American women compared to White, Latinas and Asians are also much higher.
Often dismissed as a “woman’s issue”, domestic violence has now been clearly put front and center by the young couple.
On the night of the Grammy’s, news broke that Rihanna, 21, had been severely beaten by her boyfriend, Chris Brown, 19, however no pictures had been released.
How TMZ came up with the photograph is now in question.
In a statement released by the LAPD last night, the department has launched an internal investigation towards the release of the photograph as they take “seriously its duty to maintain the confidentiality of victims of domestic violence.”
The fight started over a text message received by Brown from another woman who wanted to hook up with the young singer. The couple had pulled over to a residential street in Los Angeles where Rihanna, upset at the message, threw the car keys out the window.
New reports show that Chris Brown began choking her and threatening to “kill her”. As neighbors who heard her screams called the police, Rihanna passed out and awoke to find Brown gone.
Represented by high powered attorney, Mark Geragos, the same attorney who represented Scott Peterson, Brown turned himself over to the police and posted his $50,000 bail.
Brown’s reaction reveals more than just an angry and irritated boyfriend. With fame, money and endless stardom, perhaps a sense of invisibility is not a farfetched description of the young artist.
His severe actions towards Rihanna may also reveal a pattern of abuse.
For many, the cycle of abuse can happen gradually. Sometimes, without the victim ever realizing he or she is involved. According to Domesticviolence.org, any incident of domestic violence, be it physical, sexual or emotional, can often begin with tension building, where the abuser begins to get angry, and in many cases, the victim feels the need to keep the abuser calm, the situation can then escalate with a total breakdown of communication and the abuse begins.
The abuser may then apologize, make up, and promise it will never happen again. Many times, the abuser never thinks the abuse is “as bad” as the victim is making it out to be.
While many celebrities have not taken a position on the incident other that than to say “it never should have happened” or “it’s a shame” or “its unfortunate” no one has clearly condemned Brown and outright said that domestic violence against women or anyone for that matter is WRONG.
This missing reaction perpetuates the idea that domestic violence is not as serious an issue as some advocacy groups make it out to be. By not condemning the act, you allow for it to sit stagnant, building power.
Quick rumors and reactions online were, “Well, she gave him herpes” as if that was a viable reason or excuse that allows the abuse to take place.
Nonetheless, domestic violence does not only hurt the victim. For the abuser, domestic violence can come with unintended consequence beyond control. For the case of Brown, several radio stations are refusing to play his music, he has been dropped from several media campaigns, and may never see a career again.
It is doubtful anyone is feeling any sympathy towards Brown at this point; especially after seeing the once beautiful Rihanna turned into a human punching bag.
At any rate, the heightened attention may bring light to the larger issue.
If you or someone you know is being abused; be it physical, sexual or emotional, there is help, and you are not alone.
THERE IS NO EXCUSE for domestic violence.
Domestic violence is a CRIME.
If you’re a guy with a girlfriend who pushes your buttons for a reaction, WALK AWAY.
If you’re a girl with a boyfriend who can’t control his temper, WALK AWAY.
Here are some resources that may be of help:
Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office: http://da.co.la.ca.us/domv.htm
Hotline: 1800-978-3600 (also connected with LAPD)
National Domestic Violence Hotline: 800-799-SAFE (7233)