I’ve worked with domestic violence victims more than 20 years. I don’t pretend to understand why women stay with abusive men. Some head shrinks called it co-dependency. My Igbo-Nigerian brethren strong believers in self determination would insist the abused knows what she’s doing and wants something from her abuser.
Rihanna in her interview comments on Ryan Seacrest’s radio station seems mature and professional about it though. I mean is she supposed to beef the guy for the rest of their careers? He has gone through his anger management classes. Presumably they worked. I guess she also had counselling. it must have worked. She sounds like she’s dealing with it.
A lot of victims I worked with just wanted to make the violence stop. They did not love their men any less. They would be happy to try anger management and eager to make it work. Note there are two types of domestic violence. I’m not referring to the long term tragic abuse and death DV that sometimes make the news.
Early in my DV work I came across a study by a respected feminist scholar that drew a clear distinction between what she described as intimate partner violence and chronic battery. She had also found that pathological chronic abusers had a distinct personality type.
Prior to her study we treated DV in a knee jerk manner. If he hits you once, get out, he’ll hit you again. We always supported women to leave men after the first strike. And labelled a lot a men abusers when they may not have deserved that label or when intervention was still possible.
I’ll have to dig up this study. I can’t remember the title or the authors name. The criteria for labelling a man an abuser changed after that. We started to look for the personality traits associated with abusers if it was a first incident and advice our clients accordingly.
In these sort of interventions the objective, the motivation was the possibility that the couple could try again to have a normal healthy relationship after a sole incident of violence. Interventions can work where interpersonal communication is the challenge. Not for chronic abusive personalities.
There is a spectrum of DV. While zero tolerance makes for great copy the distinction for me as a professional is whether it is the sort that can stop with intervention and the sort that can’t respond.
Maybe these kids have responded to their therapy.
If they want to get back together so what? Its not nearly as melodramatic as some folks want to make it seem. Some feminists are as offended as when Hilary declined to divorce Bill. My African mothers and sisters were more accepting.
So far rumours of them getting together are just rumours. Ri-Ri says its all innocent work. If there is a message Rihanna is sending to victims I think its that a victim can get beyond abuse because so long as you’re beefing you’re still giving your abuser power over you and you’ll remain a victim.
As for Chris hasn’t he paid a price? Do we have to lump him for life with paedophiles and sociopaths? Is there no reward for successful reform? Then why make someone go through the program?
In some cases there is a clear and present danger in the victim and the abuser meeting or being anywhere near each other. There is no possibility of reform. I just don’t think this is one of them. I think we should let the kids live, learn and grow.
I admire their personal courage even while I am aware that the industry they’re in can be extremely insensitive and manipulative in its deliberate creation of drama for the pop media.
Update 24 March 2012 – Just heard on Ric Dee’s World Chart Show that Rihanna says her condition for getting back with Chris Brown is he splits from current girlfriend. RiRi remember what you learnt in counselling now. Be strong.