Domestic violence is everybody’s business, but Rihanna’s relationship is not

Many victims of domestic violence “stay” with their abusers, as in the case of Rihanna and Chris Brown (Photo Courtesy of Getty Images/ Photo illustration by Valery Fregoso)

Valery Fregoso


Throughout Twitter, Facebook, and in the media, Rihanna and Chris Brown’s relationship is one of the highly documented in Hollywood despite the couple’s belief that it should be ‘nobody’s business,’ like the song they recorded back in September 2012.  Rihanna and Chris Brown’s relationship is ‘nobody’s business’ but domestic abuse is a major issue that needs to be addressed.

On Feb. 8, 2009 just after midnight, Rihanna and Chris Brown were coming back from a pre-Grammy party when they got in verbal argument over a text message Brown received from another woman, according to the County of Los Angeles Police teport. He then proceeded to slap her, punch her repeatedly, bite her, strangle her, throw her phone out of the car and state that he was going to “beat the s*** out of [her]” and that he was going to “kill [her]” after she attempted to call someone for help before he threw her phone out the window. He left her beaten and bleeding before a witness called 911. Brown was then arrested and pleaded guilty of assault, resulting in 150 days of community service, five years probation, a five-year restraining order (lifted in 2011) and enrollment in a 52-week domestic violence batter intervention program.

Four years later, Rihanna and Brown have reconciled their relationship publicly for the second time after the assault, even revealing to Elle U.K. how much they love each other and to possibly even start a family. Rihanna said to Rolling Stone in January 2013, “he’s not the monster everybody thinks he is.”

One hundred students from Irvine Valley College and Saddleback College were surveyed with the question, “Do you think its okay that Rihanna has gotten back together with Chris Brown after the domestic abuse incident back in 2009?” Of all students surveyed, 31 percent of students said yes, they find it okay. Many of them said it was okay because “love makes you do stupid things,” and “its her life, we should not be in it.” The other 69 percent of students said no, it’s not okay. A common reason is that she should have been a role model for her fans, and should not be with him.  

Rihanna publicly spoke out in an interview with Diane Sawyer for the first time about the abuse in November 2009. Even owning up to the decision to become a role mode.

“This happened to me and it can happen to anyone. I’m glad it happened to me, cause now I can help young girls when they go through it. I will say that to any young girl who is going through domestic violence. Don’t react off love. F love,” Rihanna said. “Come out of the situation and look at it third person for what it really is. And then make your decision. Because love is so blind. It is so blind.” She even recognized that it takes up to eight or nine times to end a relationship with an abuser.

After speaking with he IVC Health and Wellness Center, Saddleback’s counseling center and Marissa Presley from Laura’s House, an agency that helps individuals and families affected by abuse, it was realized that the question surveyed was geared more towards the victim, on what Rihanna is doing wrong, not towards what Brown did wrong. A common mistake many make when talking about domestic abuse.

Why is Rihanna back together with him after she admitted that she should be a role model to her fans? We cannot blame her for being back together with him. Unfortunately, many abusive relationships on average do not end until the seventh break up according to Presely.

“As an advocate, I expect one thing from the survivor, where society expects her to be a role model, [for] the victim to speak up, to do something, to not return to her abuser, [society] expects so much from the victim,” Presley, Prevention Education Specialist for Laura’s House said. “I expect one thing for the victim, to remain alive. That is my highest expectation and my only expectation.”

As a society, we cannot expect her to be an advocate against domestic abuse. In an interview with Oprah in August 2012, she mentions how she was “embarrassed” and “humiliated.”  How can our society expect someone who is a victim of a physical and mental crime to be a spokesperson when they possibly are still being abused?

“I personally (have) never been in that situation,” Alexis Lee, 21, health science, said. “Brown took it seriously and got help to better himself which makes me ‘okay with it’.”

According to Presley, studies show that people who complete the 52-week batter intervention program, 80 percent of them will continue to abuse. Brown completed this program by tweeting out a picture of his diploma for his fans back in December 2010.

When surveyed, many argued that something more could have happened that night that the public does not know about. but it does not give it any excuse for anyone to be hit or beaten especially the way Rihanna was that night.

Will Brown continue to abuse her? According to the statistics, possibly.

We can only hope that Rihanna will be safe and that she is not staying for the wrong reasons, such as fear.  According to Presley, Fear is the number one reason victims tend to stay with their abusers. This can be due to the fear of being alone, losing the person you love or even fear of threats. It is not our place to judge what she chooses to do.

But, domestic abuse is everybody’s business. This case is a great example to educate the young and our fellow students about domestic abuse.

Saddleback and Irvine Valley College has many resources when it comes to help with domestic abuse by counseling and providing outside resources if needed. The Saddleback Counseling Center offers help to anyone who feels they are in an abusive relationship. You can call, go online or even drop in to schedule an appointment with a counselor.

“If it’s an emergency, and you need help then, we will not turn you away.” Michael Engels, Saddleback counselor said.

Irvine Valley College also have help from the Health and Wellness Center. They have physiological counseling and physical check ups for those who are in need of help. Christine Hogstedt, Director of the Health and Wellness Center also said that she would never turn anyone away if they needed help. You can call or walk in to schedule an appointment.

If you are currently in an abusive relationship or would like to know more about the red flags on abusers, please visit Lauras House

If you need to make an appointment with Saddleback counseling or IVC Health and Wellness Center please visit:



Print Friendly, PDF & Email