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Rihanna and the Reality of Abuse
Singers Rihanna and Chris Brown perform at the Z100 Jingle Ball 2008 at Madison Square Garden on Friday, Dec. 12, 2008 in New York. (AP)

Singers Rihanna and Chris Brown perform at the Z100 Jingle Ball 2008 at Madison Square Garden on Friday, Dec. 12, 2008 in New York. (AP)

Nineteen-year-old pop singer Chris Brown didn’t just give pop singer Rihanna a hard time.

He beat her. In their Lamborghini, the night before the Grammys. Punched, choked and bit her, according to police records. Threatened to kill her. Shoved her head against the window and wailed away until her mouth filled with blood and blood spattered the car.

It’s just one couple in the limelight. But experts say it’s one young couple in a new generation that is seeing not less but more relationship violence.

This hour, On Point: A new generation faces an old cycle of abuse.

You can join the conversation. Why isn’t this problem fading? What would you say to Rihanna — to Chris Brown — if you had the chance? Is their story your story of abuse? Young listeners, what’s going on in your crowd? What keeps this going?


Sandy Banks, columnist at the Los Angeles Times. Readers responded in droves to her column “Chris Brown and Rihanna: a lesson for teens.” She is also the mother of three daughters—18, 20, and 23—with opinions of their own about the case.

Lisa Hartwick, director of the Center for Violence Prevention and Recovery at the Beth Israel-Deaconess Medical Center.

Candace Hopkins, director of Love is Respect, a national dating abuse helpline.

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  • R.M.

    here is a question ….. why is there Honor killings?isn’t that the same reason for violence against women?http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jDLb2GuIM3Y&feature=related

  • http://www.architecturemnp.com ryan

    Hey guys – just a quick FYI: Chris Brown isn’t a “rapper”. I guess abusive rapper is better than abusive R&B singer in terms of story, maybe? Either way – he’s a singer.

  • vladimir

    The introduction of today’s show makes it sound as if domestic violence is new to this generation. I’m having a hard time believing that this is the case.

  • JD

    People don’t comprehend how the victim gets to the point, mentally, where they’d forgive their abuser, where they’d go back to that person, or even feel responsible for the abuse.

    The mental and emotional abuse that leads up to the physical abuse needs to be talked about more!! I am a survivor of domestic/relationship violence, much like what Rihanna experienced, and it was extremely difficult for me to put the responsibility on my abuser – I believed that it was partially my fault. I didn’t understand the mental and emotional manipulation that made me feel responsible. And, yes, I took my abuser back for a period of time.

  • Rigo

    The problem, in my opinion, is that women are often raised to accept suffering as a normal part of being a woman which enables men raised to be physically dominate to harm them. Far too often in all societies violence against women is given acceptance.

  • Rex

    Are Chris Brown & Rihanna the new Ike & Tina?

  • Jenny Beaudin Ring

    I work with men who batter, who have been convicted of felony crimes related to domestic violence. These men must complete a year long program that addresses domestic violence and holds them accountable for their behavior. I can assure you that men, after participating in the program, can tell you the clear and deliberate motivations and intents of their actions – they can recognize that they don’t “lose control”, that they act in calculated ways to control the women that they abuse. Men who batter don’t begin a relationship by battering – they usually begin as a sweet, likable, respectable guy – it happens over time and can happen to anyone. The question should not be “why does she stay” or “should she return”, but “why does he do that” and “how can we hold him accountable”.

  • Ceredwyn Alexander

    Unfortunately, so much teen lit portrays the danger signs of abusers as signs of true love. In “Twilight” the character of Edward at one point takes the female protagonist’s engine out of her car to prevent her from seeing another man. At another point he tells her “You should be afraid of me.”

    This is portrayed as somehow romantic. In real life, men who do this kind of thing (restricting her movements, isolating her from other friends, threatening her indirectly) are just straight up abusive.

    Book reccomendation: Protecting the Gift by Gavin Debecker

    I tell my daughter “That feeling you get where your stomach tightens and your palms sweat and you don’t want to talk in case you say the wrong thing? Thats fear. Run away”

  • JD

    and on what Oprah said…

    if someone is abusive w/ you, i agree, they will probably always be abusive w/ you…maybe they won’t abuse their next partner, but the dynamic of your relationship w/ your abuser will probably always be toxic.

    if your abuser is able to stop the physical violence they will probably continue to abuse you in a non-physical way.

  • tania

    I agree that there has to be consequences for the abuser, AND I believe that they need to be consequences that can help with future prevention of more abuse by the abuser and future victimization by the abused. I supervised a master’s thesis once, by a victim of partner abuse, who was talking about using a restorative justice approach that really looked at ways for the abuser to make restitution and be mandated to go to treatment or something, AND it also has support for the victim to help get out of abusive relationships, which often becomes a cycle for the victim.

  • Susan Harrigan

    When you ask how can this be happening after talking about this for years, I have to respond that talking about it doesn’t make it go away. Direct influence in family and dating relationships, direct and indirect influences in our society, our media, our pastimes- come on, we are all desensitized to violence, we learn to be hands off regarding people in trouble. Violence is not addressed as strongly as it should be, nor are offenders (or victims) receiving any help if they are punished. When you couple that with the fact that most of us do not learn adequate self esteem, self control respect or boundaries, it is not a surprise at all.

  • Mark

    From a guy whose been physically abused once in a relationship…There is no question whether the relationship should end…every abusive relationship should end…its not a matter of whether people can change or not, once one person in a relationship abuses the other, the relationship is forever corrupted. Zero tolerance is the only stance society must have not only to discourage abuse, not only becasue of the huge likelyhood that abuse will continue and get worse, but also because the relationship is and never again can be based on mutual respect. If the abuser can and does change, great, start another relationship and don’t abuse. That said, its easy to see this in retrospect, while in the relationship it seemed more important than anything in life…silly.

  • Rachel LS

    For those in the Boston area, I highly recommend BARCC (barcc.org) as a resource both for helping victims and for seminars and training to empower teens and prevent abuse. They trained me to present a seminar to teens at the January SF convention Arisia (www.arisia.org) and I was incredibly impressed by the quality of their materials.

  • Domestic Abuse

    Does your commentator have anything but cultural anecdote to add to the conversation?….

    People know what feels right to them???

    Young people know when it is right to have sex???

    Evidence for over arching cliche?

    This is why societal mores need to be grounded.
    We have been very successful in the US with the attitude that anything goes…now we are reaping what we have sown.

  • http://DesMoines,Ia Steve

    Why do we teach women that without a man they aren’t complete? This starts with playing house rather than football and doesn’t end when we make marriage more important than college graduation. We set them up.
    Men aren’t raised with marriage being the end purpose. Why do we do this top women. why do women do it to women.

  • K Ackerman

    Relates to bullying and need for power and control. The physical outburst is just a small part of the pathology.

  • Dorothee Janssen

    One aspect that I have only heard mentioned in passing is the feeling of shame – the shame of letting this happen to oneself. And in fact, I believe this feeling may be worse in “stronger” women. It has taken me years to get over the fact that I let my then boyfriend almost beat me.

  • Laura

    My sister is the victim of domestic violence (my brother-in-law is currently in prison for their last “episode”). She plans on taking him back once he gets out. He choked her and threatened her with a gun and ONLY received several months in prison.

    Women(especially young women)need to understand that this behaviour is NOT okay. I agree with the caller who said it’s often easier for women to stay in a situation then leave (it’s familiar and oddly safe). That’s what I’ve seen demonstrated in my sister’s situation.

    We some how have to get across to women that they are strong, are NOT objects, and have a right not to be mistreated. Self-esteem is key!

  • JD

    “self esteem, self control, self respect or boundaries” – i agree, instilling these characteristics in young people is probably the best way to prevent domestic violence.

    if i possessed these qualities when i started seeing signs of abuse in my relationship i would have left him immediately – no question.

  • Sara

    On the idea that Oprah puts the onus on the victim of abuse:

    I think this is a case where we should not let the perfect be the enemy of the good. In an ideal world, the abuser would be pressured, if not forced, by peers or society to seek treatment. But this is seldom the case today and it is frequently up to the abuser to recognize the problem and choose to seek help. Though I agree that there should be more discussion about the responsibility of the abuser to get help and take responsibility for his or her life and actions, we certainly shouldn’t be hesitating to tell victims to take matters into their own hands and get out of abusive relationships while we wait for abusers and society to change.

  • Noreen

    Violence is the result of commoditization of humans, which relates to an earlier topic on this show, the Barbie doll which emphasizes female parts. Sex sells. Companies have no compunction selling sex to children in clothes, toys, and media. It’s good for the company’s bottom line, but is it good for the children? Instead of empowerment, have commercial messages like this led to compliance?

  • Keith

    We live in a violence-obsessed culture, of course that will be reflected in relationships. It’s not just men hitting women it’s also women hitting men, men hitting men, women hitting women. Imagine if our he/sheros were the peacemaker and not the warrior.

  • Carrie

    I think the cycle of abuse begins at home. I came from a “traditional” Midwest family with very conservative values and in this lifestyle my great-grandfather, grandfather and father were all violent towards the women in their lives. The sad thing is their actions were not only acceptable, but it was almost expected that men treated their women this way. As a child I grew up watching my grandmother and mother beaten, hit and abused for sometimes the slightest offense. As an adult and now a mother of a 2 1/2 year old son, I’ve chosen to break this cycle of abuse. My son has been raised in a loving family and in a relationship where two parents never hit or strike one another ever, and never in anger. I think to stop the violence and abuse, men need to set a example and be positive role models for thier sons and establish early on in their children’s development of social behavior (in those formitive toddler years), that relationships with women are not based on power, control and anger-but of mutual love and respect.

  • Naomi Bindman

    My daughter is 17, in Vermont, yet her friends often have bruises and worse from boyfriends. The mantra they recite is “things happen.” As a counselor I have seen girls as young as 13 who have been beaten, threatened, thrown down stairs by their boyfriend. It is seen now as acceptable and the norm.

  • Jon

    Women abuse men just as much as the other way around…is every bit as emotionally damaging. Its almost always less physically dangerous and almost never reported…as a result, there is a mis-perception that abuse is “usually” male to female, and there is usually no support for abused men by society, support organizations or the legal system.

  • marcus

    the images kids see in magazines, on line, and at the movies only add to this in a way that it seems like parents–and mothers in particular, aren’t willing to take a stand with young daughters and say this is inappropriate. they want their girls to be able to go to movies with their girlfriends whose mothers are more concerned about fitting in than what their kids see. they don’t think of the subtle implications of what the girls are watching/seeing and what that might mean of expectations placed on these girls. many girls are just too young developmentally to discern that the lives they see on screen don’t have to be their own. even the movie he’s just not that into you a pg-13 movie gives messages and images that are easy to misinterpret.

  • http://www.voicesofmen.org Ben Atherton-Zeman

    I think we’re asking the wrong question. Everyone is asking “Why is Rihanna staying with him?” when we should be asking “Why is Chris abusing her” and “What can we do to make it safe for her to leave?”

    As a man, I think it’s my gender’s responsibility to hold other men accountable. Domestic violence prevention work is done primarily by women, but it’s us guys who perpetrate the majority of this violence – let’s do more work to stop domestic violence and support women’s leadership to stop domestic violence.

  • praveen

    There is a great spanish film on this topic “Take My Eyes” (Te Doy Mis Ojos).
    It is based on the fact that a lot of the abusers keep a cycle by asking for forgiveness after committing and abuse.

  • Lisa

    We need better education for both the victim and the abuser. There also needs to be tangible physical resources for the victims when they do step out of the cycle of abuse. It is literally like jumping off a bridge without a net. We need to be the nets for these victims, otherwise they can not leave the environments they have chosen to live in.

  • Peggy

    I just finished listening to the On Point discussion of abusive relationships and I am really struck by Tom’s continual focus on the woman/girl being abused instead of on the abuser. He kept asking why this is still going on and what can we tell our girls. I think that he would have had a more forward-looking discussion by focusing on how we as a community can work on a “perpetrator prevention” model in the same way we did for drunk driving when we moved from “Be careful. Drunk drivers are on the road.” to “Friends don’t let friends drive drunk.” The way Tom facilitated and directed the discussion made it a very conservative, backward-focused discussion which was disappointing to me. I suggest a program on what we can do to raise men who are not going to perpetrate and who will not support this behavior in their friends, music stars or sports figures. I understand that women and girls are also perpetrators but the major problem at the moment is male violence towards women and other men.

  • Marion

    I wish you had not spent an hour of mature, respectable NPR time focusing on this topic. One reason this sort of battering happens is that it *attracts attention* – the old story of the kid who isn’t getting enough attention being good, so he acts out & suddenly is the center of attention, even if the attention is negative.

    Needy kids will translate this story as “fame and glory” or “fashion” – “Hey, the instance of abuse is rising, so if I don’t abuse my partner, I’m out of fashion!”

    Please spend more time on stories about rock stars or corporate magnates who raise money for charity! Here’s a good story: I’m seeing a lot of 13-year-old Jewish kids asking friends & families to donate money to charities instead of giving them Bar Mitzvah gifts, and I’m sure there are similar Christian patterns. Make Doing Good an attention-getting device, and the world will have to become a better place!

  • Marie Isenburg

    Ms. Banks is setting a dangerous trap for her daughters if she is advising them to modify their behavior in order to prevent physical abuse. The website http://www.womenshealth.gov/violence/signs/ warns that an abuser “blames you for his or her violent outbursts.” Stoprelationshipabuse.org/sign asks potential victims, “Does your partner tell you that if you changed they wouldn’t abuse you?” If you are walking on eggshells, you are being abused and you are setting the stage for escalation. If Ms. Banks’ daughter is unhappy with her boyfriend’s level of interest in her, her feelings are legitimate. As a parent, she could encourage her daughter to calmly asses whether her relationship is helping her grow as a person. If not, rather than get angry or make excuses, her daughter needs to move on. I and other family members have experienced relationship violence. The relationship can’t be a contest over who has more control, the abuser who controls the victim, or the victim who wants to change the abuser. The relationship must end if there is to be any hope for a better life for either the victim or the abuser. Marie Isenburg

  • Adrienne

    Why are you giving this thug one more second of attention? He beat on a woman. He is a thug. I don’t believe all of the psychobabble about being the product of abuse and so on.
    Put him in jail where he can be beat on and let him learn his lesson there.

  • http://tombstone001.blogspot.com MOHAMMED N. RAZAVI

    It is ironic, the same psychologists and anthropoligists that call the multiple relations of couples as the normal human behavior and thenature are shocked and surprised that the beating up women is also instinctive and natural, especially if a woman is agressive or independent. When a woman gets out of line she is beaten, be it in Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan or an African country or the United States, no matter how we try to sound and be different. Sexual violance is the cost of “sexual freedom”. Obsession, possession, harrassment, stalking, call it what you may is a part and parcel of the sexual freedoms that we want to enjoy. You can not oout law human nature. Ancients tried to cordon the human behavior with establishment of silly little guidelines like, one man one woman, no coveting,no adultery, and damn sure no “dating”, no boy griends and girl friends. But what did they know?

    I did not get to hear the whole show today, did any one mention the female teen suicide after her sexted nudie was shared by her ex -bf,


  • http://nanazzopardi@yahoo.com nancy clardy

    I am a Domestic violence advocate and a survivor. The reason many women stay is because of the overwhelming sense of confusion. What may have felt like love in the early stages of the relationship, now feels uncomfortable and stifling and perhaps even dangerous. Initially she can’t put her finger on any one thing that is wrong, she just knows she isn’t comfortable anymore. The problem is that the early warning signs are easily dismissed by both the victim and her friends and family with the lable of “over-reacting”. There are also reminders of good times shared. Abusers are not always violent, cruel, or unkind, so the violence seems like an isolated incident and trivial in terms of the big picture. By the time a woman has been abused she already doubts her own motives, and instincts. She does not trust what her gut is telling her. And she may be afraid of making him mad and even more dangerous. It is never safe to give a woman in this situation the advice to leave without a very well thought out and planned escape. Remember, you do not have to live with the consequences of any action YOU tell her to take – she does. We don’t have to understand why a woman would go back to a man who has severly beaten her to love her and support her. Hopefully, when she is tired of being afraid and beaten she will reach out to those have been loving and supportive for the encouragement and help needed to leave him safely.

  • Nancy E

    I have to comment on a closing remark made by Sandy Banks, that is, Chris Brown should be punished for his actions (crime) and needs anger management training. Domestic violence (DV) is not about anger, it is about exerting one’s power over another. In a class I attended on DV, the speaker made a point of stressing this difference and noted that anger management training can actually intensify DV. What is needed is DV perpetrator training. This type of training usually lasts a minimum of one year.

  • http://nanazzopardi@yahoo.com nancy clardy

    The question is NOT why did Chris Brown beat Rihanna. It is totally irrelevant why he did it. It was a decision he made and nothing more or less. What is next, is how to convey to Rihanna that all the love in the world cannot fix a man. You cannot love him good enough, or long enough or perfect enough to undo the psychological motivations behind his behavior. The message Rihanna needs to hear is that she deserves better and no one should get a second chance to hurt you. PERIOD. This should be a non-negotiable in every relationship and the time to teach it is in junior high when the relationships are new and young people are looking for guidance in this area. Young people don’t know what the boundaries should look like and don’t have any words to set those boundaries. They need permission to listen to their gut instinct and validation that any sense of discomfort is reason enough to end a relationship. We have to teach our daughters that boys and men do not get a second chance to hurt them. IF boys can learn early on in junior high more and more girls less tolerant of that behavior, we have a chance of affecting the cycle of violence learned in a home. However, it is not a woman’s responsibility to figure out why he acts violently and to change her thoughts, behaviors, clothes, etc. to accomodate his insecurities, his damaged psyche or his delicate ego. Every man is responsible for his own behavior and every woman needs to be taught to take responsibility for her own safety very seriously. A safe relationship with mutual respect should not be based on the good graces of the man you get involved with. It should be the result of mutual respect as an expectation from the very beginning. No girl or woman should EVER settle for less. We have to teach all our daughters this lesson. Change will not come if our girls think it is “his behavior” that will make her safe.

  • http://www.lit.org/fritzwilliam Fred W. Bracy

    Mark my words: Once we win the war on drugs–if ever we can–ninety percent of this problem will go away. The reason drugs was not talked about until the program was almost over is because that would be to focus on the real problem and too many people–even to include many care giving professionals, but not necessarily those on your show–would be forced to confront THEIR OWN problem as well.

    My second observation is this: I’m appalled at the inability of your featured guests to come across as cogent in an area where they are presented as the experts. It was your callers who brought the only real intelligence that I heard to the forefont of the discussion. The guest, Candice, from Texas, never once answered a question directly. Hers was the kind of sputtering and stammering that I often expect from folks working in the social services who seem to be grossly under trained and over exposed. Why did a caller have to bring up the subject of substance abuse, and only then after the program was more than 3/4 over? Is the take away suggestion that drugs aren’t the actual *root* of the problem?

    Your guests, Tom, on this program anyway, were simply not old enough and not experienced enough to be dealing with this issue. I grew up before drugs. I saw the change come about and grow since before psycho-sexual abuse even became a word. Another caller said it: We (young folks) are accustomed to using abusive language in any and all situations, even within the family setting. Whoa … tell me about it. Ninety-nine percent of people under a certain age know absolutely nothing of civility simply because they’ve never seen it–never lived with it–and don’t even know how to call it by its real name. Deny it if you will. And to those who do deny it, maybe you’re walking around in your sleep.

  • http://nanazzopardi@yahoo.com nancy

    The reason substance abuse is not a subject that experts in the DV field focus on is because drugs and alcohol are not the cause of violence in a relationship. Drugs and alcohol are used as an excuse for unacceptable behavior. The idea, the personal belief that it is OK to hit your partner, is not put into the brain by drugs or alcohol. It is a deeply held belief that is allowed expression under the influence as a way to avoid personal responsibility. “You can’t blame me, it was the alcohol that made me do it.” I repeat, it really doesn’t matter what the abuser’s reason or motivation for violence, it is not acceptable. Abusers are very adept at blaming anyone, everyone, anything, and everything except themselves for their behavior – it was her fault I hit her; if she hadn’t made me so mad I wouldn’t have hurt her. Or, it was the drugs, I didn’t realize what I was doing. Or, it was the alcohol, I couldn’t stop myself. Until an abuser takes responsibility for his actions, all of his actions at all times, his abusive behavior will remain, despite his many promises to do better “next time”.

  • Ann-Marie

    the Barbie doll which emphasizes female parts. Sex sells. Companies have no compunction selling sex to children in clothes, toys, and media. It’s good for the company’s bottom line, but is it good for the children? Instead of empowerment, have commercial messages like this led to compliance?
    Posted by Noreen, on March 10th, 2009 at 9:44 am EDT

    Barbie is responsible for domestic violence? Really? Last time I checked Barbie wasn’t the happening product in places such as Saudi Arabia, or Afghanistan where women are not only beaten and killed but also have acid thrown on their faces. Is Barbie available in the small villages of Africa, South America, Asia-other places where women are treated like pieces of products.
    Did Rihanna ever even own a Barbie doll? Give me a break!

    People like you would blame 9/11 on Barbie if Osama bin Laden had not taken credit for it. She is the ultimate anti-Christ and scape-goat for all the ills of society.
    If plastic toys are such a source of trauma in your life, you should perhaps consider turning Mattel in to the Hague for “crimes against humanity”.

    Violence against women exists outside of Barbie, t.v., hip-hop, and the internet. Human nature is the sole reason for domestic violence. Childhood is the period used to socialize humans against their baser natures. Some never learn, some are never taught, and some are incapable of being socialized.

  • mila hamilton

    this is a really big deal. first off chris brown is an R&B SINGER. i know media likes to dump everything bad under rap music but this is different. young men and women look to people like rihanna and chris brown as role models and regardless if they want that responsibility or not they have it. for young men and women this situation is very serious because its sending the message that it is one, okay to abuse people and two, its perfectly okay to return to the person that is abusing you. in my community the feeling is general disgust towards both of them but that chris brown should get a real sentence and do time for what he did. If he slides by with probation what image is that sending to young males? i say throw the book at him and rihanna needs to take some women’s studies classes and get her head straight. i think shes pretty pathetic to do what she did in her position as a role model.

  • C. Goodrich

    Lock him up.

  • Michael

    One thing that always bothers me about shows like this is how MEN are always portrayed as the people who have been the abusers, but that is not always the case. I find it incredibly offensive when they singularly focus on male abusers when women can and do also physically abuse men. There are women that feel no compunctions about hitting men. I have been hit before. I have gotten bruises from her. So don’t always focus on the evil males of the world.

  • Jessie Lane

    I believe that the problem with abusive relationships partly lies in what our young women are internalizing about self-hood. Our women are trained from an early age (fairy tales) that in order to be successful they need to find a prince charming who is going to meet all their needs for them. They are trained to take a passive role towards themselves and towards getting their needs met. They’re told that in order to be complete they need a relationship with a boy (something that I don’t think boys are told very often). This leads to an imbalanced relationship in which women “need” men (have an externalized sense of self) and so bear the brunt of having to attract and keep them, otherwise they feel like a failure and as well as incomplete. Men, not being constrained by these “needs” since there are other valued ways in which men can obtain a sense of self, can end up taking advantage of this situation or forget that being in a relationship is a privilege they need to earn (not necessarily their fault when women don’t make them earn it). The bottom line is that we need to be telling our women that real value comes from learning how to express their identities in the world, and that relationships are for after you’ve learned how to be self-sufficient and capable on your own. Every healthy woman knows you have to learn how to love yourself first.

  • Nicole

    This is really sad. She obviously has no self esteem despite that fact that she is successful, beautiful and driven. As the victim of abuse when i was a teen and in my 20′s I know what its like to be stalked , beaten and controlled. Once you end the relationship the abuser is powerless. She sets a terrible example for you girls who look up to her and if she were my daughter Chris Brown would be yelling “Dont taze me bro!”

  • wayne young


    Just listen to the music , the message is dysfunctional and the message is violence .

  • Charles S. Merroth

    The basis for behavior is before birth to the third year of life. There are many knowlegable experts on early nurturing that could have been more worthy guests that would explain functional families and nurturing by parents at the earliest years
    My solution to assist with behavior is a required course for parents of the NEXT generation in all schools at the 7th and 12th grade levels. I am calling it ‘My Child: For a Better World’ The President could really take a major step forward by promoting such a school addition nationaly as a mandate.

  • Jane E.

    There need to be more resources available for _treating_ the batterer to really deal with this problem. Many men and women who batter are likely as confused about their actions and ashamed as the person being abused, but it is really hard to know where to go for help. Domestic violence resources – shelters and hotlines are relatively easy to find for the person abused when they are ready, but finding help for an abuser is much harder — not only are there fewer resources, but they also face shame, stigma, and the additional threat of imprisonment. I would bet that prison doesn’t go very far in treating people how to manage their anger and have healthy relationships. Access to treatment for BOTH the victim and the abuser is imperative.

  • sarah

    I was in an abusive relationship, and I am a lawyer. Domestic violence can happen to anyone. My heart goes out to Rihanna: especially if reports are accurate that she has reunited with her abuser, Chris Brown.

    I escaped with my life, but not much else, from my abuser. My life has not been the same ever since. Although it’s been nearly 2 years from my escape, I cannot fully trust anyone ever since. I have a kind man in my life right now who if I would have met before being abused I would be in love with at this point. Instead, nearly everything that comes out of his mouth is cast into question by me. I’m not sure if I will ever be able to trust or love anyone a part from myself ever again.

    I’m sorry, Rihanna. Please trust the quiet voice inside you and believe in yourself. Believe in yourself, and you will survive. You are a bright, beautiful, and young woman who has a future ahead that is limitless. Survivors of DV are believers in you. All you need to do next is believe in youself. Be well.

  • lydia

    I think we need to look at what happens between parents and children – there is a violence from the large against the small in all families, and the more dysfunctional the family the worse the abuse of power. And in a single family household, a mom is often the only punisher. Is it surprising that the dynamic remains the same, just with a switch in gender? First a large woman uses her body to overpower a small boy. Later he grows and does the same to a woman smaller than he.

  • Clarisse

    As someone who has been in a marriage that was abusive I am so sorry to hear that 2 young very talented people are in the same kind of relationship I was, different but the same… I am sorry to say that if they hit you once more than likely they will do it again and again and with each time the abuse gets worse. I believe in counseling however the abuser has to really work out their problems and that take a lot of time and honesty on their part and some just can’t face it and unfortunately their partner pay dearly and may even die.
    But the scars live on and on.. You can’t change people
    that is up to them, but I worry that she may find that out too late….

  • David

    A book written by Joe S. Mcllhaney, Jr. M.D. entitled,”Sexuality and Sexually Transmitted Diseases” is a must read for everyone on this subject. This Doctor nails the problem on the head. Warning! He addresses this issue as one caused by our moral and spiritual breakdown as the root cause. I totally agree that this is the root of the problem. God created us to develope in stages in our lifes. From birth to adulthood, boundaries are set that should not be crossed till the proper time and place. Sex is one of those boundaries that should only be crossed in the confines of marriage. What happens if it is crossed?
    When a young man crosses the psychological barrier of sex before marriage the purpose for sex and his relationship with his girlfriend changes forever. Sex becomes the main goal in the relationship. He becomes addicted to the sensation. His main goal is that. He looks at his girlfriend not as a mate, but as an object that will give him pleasure and release. She becomes property. He protects and guards the source of his pleasure from all threats, including being denied by her. To him the relationship is only important for sex. If she denies he will either dump or force or abuse.
    When the girl crosses this fine line, her psychology changes to one of being used. She feels that sex is the only avenue that love is expressed towards her by him. Why do guys always say “If you love me?? She feels the only way to receive love and be loved is by giving herself in sex. Love comes with conditions. She becomes a sex object and not a person. The relationship will get old, sex will get old, boring and meaningless and destruction will follow. He will go to the next conquest and she will become victim of the next conquest. The destructive cycle will continual till people learn that barriers should not be crossed. True love is not self seeking,it is one that seeks the best for the person that it is given to. Will America ever learn, will we ever learn?

  • Bill

    Please listen to both sides of this issue. Check out the work of professor Murray A. Straus. He writes of violence of women against men. It is pervasive. As long as women can batter men, and the man gets arrested as a matter of course unless the wounds are very egregious, then women are not safe. A natural reflex of being hit is to hit back. As long as it is OK for a woman to strike a man with a hard object, and on TV it is even used to get laughs, then we will have this problem. The gender bias has swung to women being routinely believed, often with no evidence, and men being stereotyped as unsafe. False accusations of this sort are especially exploited in custody cases to descredit a father who wants custody of his children.

  • Jane

    There are many leading lights who try to provide a balanced view on this subject. Marc H. Rudov, Glenn Sacks, Dr. Stephen Baskerville, and Christina Hoff Sommers are amont the most interesting. It is not as simple as you are told.

  • Bill

    Why was no one from an organization such as Fathers and Families or American Coalition for Fathers and Children invited (even allowed?) to say a few sentences? I am surprised that WBUR is so obviously one-sided and does not even pretend to be balanced by offering 2% of its time to the other side of the issue.

  • Valerie

    An expert on this topic is Lundy Bancroft. I highly recommend his book, “Why Does He Do That? Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men.” His website http://www.lundybancroft.com is also a good resource. I am dismayed by the many comments I have been hearing in the media on this topic which are based on myths and not on validated research.

  • jafo

    Battering, beating, abuses are culturally systemic passed on generation to generation. The solution starting with Chris Brown and Rihanna: forced vasectomy for him, ovaries removed for her.

  • Danielle

    I would like to comment on this person’s opinon:
    Ceredwyn Alexander, on March 10th, 2009 at 9:28 am EDT.

    I believe you are taking the Twilight dialogue and putting it into a context where it doesn’t fit. You say at one point that Edward says to Bella: “You should be afraid of me.” I don’t think this is an attempt at control or a warning sign of abuse. It’s a foreshadowing of Edward’s inner conflicts about being a vampire and wanting to protect Bella.

    I’m not even a Twilight fan, I just happened to read that book and I think you may have misconstrued the quote.

  • Nina

    I agree with people’s statements that we live in a culture that condones violence. This issue is systemic and has many contributing factors: music, books, self-esteem, etc. One example, Sandy stated in the beginning of the conversation her gut reaction was to punch Chris Brown in the nose. Why are we trying to answer violence with more violence, force with force?!

    The issue of intimate partner violence is not limited to physical violence, that’s just what catches people’s eye. It all starts with the emotional power, control and fear that a person exerts on another.

    The key to solving this issue is to teach and empower men and women with the power of language and dialogue. Challenge stereotypes, increase self-efficacy and empathy for all.

  • Tina

    It’s not just the fault of the batterer it’s also an issue with the person that believes its okay to be hit and or beaten by another person male or female. On some level she suffers from a sense of low self worth despite her fame. The abuse is not an overnight thing. I am sure this has happened to her by him previously but not to this extent and we just didn’t know about it. Someone needs to help her understand that she is worth more than a punching bag.

  • Mark

    Domestic abuse = child abuse = elder abuse = school/ workplace abuse. It’s all the same monster, manifesting against different victims, in different ways. And the abuser -always- sees themself as the real victim.

    I should know, as I have been both the victim, and came intolerably close to being the abuser. Luckily I gave in to my better nature. =) What’s really strange is that I felt like a coward for -not- hurting her.

    It’s not about drugs or sex objects, it goes much much deeper than that. It’s a bizarre form of co-dependence. Abusers can’t play this game alone, somebody has to agree to be the victim, and it seems Rhianna has.

    For a very long and incredibly revealing explanation:


    or try the short version:


    It will change the way you look at -every- relationship you have -ever- had. Even the good ones. Seriously.

  • Ken

    who cares,,,,they are part of the problem….we decent tax paying citizens bear the social and political burden for these inner city morons

  • Shelley

    I completely agree with Peggy that the focus needs to be paid more to the abuser rather than the victim/survivor. In cases like this much blame is placed on the victim/survivor when it is ultimately the abuser who should be the focus. Violence prevention and intervention are keys to attempting to end violence against women. I say women just because they are the majority of victims/survivors. Jenny is correct in saying abuse is calculated and not a stress, alcohol or drug driven incident. It is ALL about POWER & CONTROL!

  • http://www.freewebs.com/moldy-onions Alexandrya Joly

    Seriously, it’s not Chris…it’s not Rihanna…it’s BOTH of them. They are both equally involved in this, of course her does not have the right to hit her. He.Does.Not. He chose to. Rihanna as no right to go off making out with some guy (I read that in an article somewhere) but guess what? She chose to. So basically, we have now landed in a situation were Chris is taking advantage of her emotionally, so here, he has the upper hand –no pun intended–, but she choses to let her self get stringed along in all this. Once again, an example of both parties participating in feeding this disease known as “Abuse”…

    All we can do is wait an see the outcome

  • Diana

    This is a question for Mr. Tom Ashbrook. Are you, as a man keep the conversation going about male violence against women, or is this going to be another Nicole Brown Simpson/ O.J. Simpson scenerio where, once it is not newsworthy anymore, this epidemic once again slips into the background, leaving millions of women and children to suffer once again in silence. And why? Because they are not famous or are not celebrities. Does that mean that they deserve any less help or recognition? Yes, this is indeed an opportunity to teach and get correct information to your listeners. Domestic violence is never the victims responsibility or fault. NEVER – and that’s the bottom line. Get educated, get involved and take a stand! Men need to hold other men accountable for their violent behavior and we need to stop asking the victims to ‘make it better or okay’.
    Thank you for listening.

  • N.K.

    As we have become progressively less willing to discipline our children, we are seeing greater and greater levels of violence erupting throughout society. Children raised without limits, and accustomed to getting whatever they want, lash out violently at the slightest perceived provocation. “Road rage” didn’t exist 20 years ago. Today, it has become common to see children publically being verbally, and even physically abusive to their parents. Why would we expect them to treat a girl or boyfriend any differently?

Aug 22, 2014
Attorney General Eric Holder talks with Capt. Ron Johnson of the Missouri State Highway Patrol at Drake's Place Restaurant, Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014, in Florrissant, Mo. (AP)

The National Guard and Eric Holder in Ferguson. ISIS beheads an American journalist. Texas Governor Rick Perry gets a mug shot. Our weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines.

Aug 22, 2014
In this image from video posted on Facebook, courtesy of the George W. Bush Presidential Center, former President George W. Bush participates in the ice bucket challenge with the help of his wife, Laura Bush, in Kennebunkport, Maine. (AP)

The Ice Bucket Challenge: ALS, viral fundraising and how we give in the age of social media.

Aug 22, 2014
In this image from video posted on Facebook, courtesy of the George W. Bush Presidential Center, former President George W. Bush participates in the ice bucket challenge with the help of his wife, Laura Bush, in Kennebunkport, Maine. (AP)

The Ice Bucket Challenge: ALS, viral fundraising and how we give in the age of social media.

Aug 22, 2014
Attorney General Eric Holder talks with Capt. Ron Johnson of the Missouri State Highway Patrol at Drake's Place Restaurant, Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014, in Florrissant, Mo. (AP)

The National Guard and Eric Holder in Ferguson. ISIS beheads an American journalist. Texas Governor Rick Perry gets a mug shot. Our weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines.

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