There are many articles circulating around the Chris Brown/Rihanna collaborations that have recently released. Instead of offering an official loveisrespect.org statement, we wanted to let our peer advocates, National Youth Advisory Board members and staff sound off about the stories we’ve seen. Ultimately, we hope both Rihanna and Chris Brown find healing. We as an organization want to help anyone on either side of an abusive situation. We’re always here via phone, chat or text.
Here are the thoughts that were shared:
“I feel that is a very common play in the culture of domestic. We look at these two individuals as something other then normal people trying to figure out life. Yes, they are famous, yes they are role models, however they are also two young people coping with the consequences of domestic violence. We knew about the injuries because Rihanna is in the spotlight; her assault was written loud and clear for the public to judge (which is what we are doing now).” - Holland
“When I think about Chris and Rihanna, I am always frustrated at the backlash that either one of them is receiving in this.
I worry that we are forgetting that a young woman (Rihanna), whose picture we remember bruised and battered, is still recovering inside and will be for the rest of her life. No matter why she refriended, twitter follows or gets back together with Chris, she is someone who didn’t choose to be hurt. In the end, she is a human being, and who we love is who we love, and it takes time to get past a relationship with someone you love.
Maybe that’s why she is going back, but I really care little about that. What I do care about is making certain that in our posts, conversations and thoughts about her, we remember that she is always going to carry a scar that we don’t have to point out to her. She remembers it. We need to care about how we treat anyone who is struggling to regain their footing or dignity after abuse of any kind.
Chris Brown was wrong. What he did was horrific, but I sometimes worry that people’s efforts to destroy him at every opportunity hurts our overall mission to help everyone, especially those that are abusive who are watching these reactions to Chris. People can change and while not all will, we need to produce messages that include the people who choose to use abusive behavior in their relationship. We have to show those who want to change why they can move forward and be a better man or woman.
I agree with a friend who said we need a more organized response to Chris Brown to be effective in holding him accountable to his actions. I believe that he deserves a career, I believe he deserves to be happy, but he also needs to accept that forgiveness comes by always taking the opportunity to accept and assure that he is always trying to work on being a better man. This means admitting that he made a choice to hurt someone and is now making a choice to change.” - Brian
“In regard to celebrities speaking out via Twitter about the Rihanna and Chris Brown situation, I think they should be careful to avoid victim-blaming Rihanna. It can be frustrating to watch someone return to an abusive relationship but it’s important to be there for that person instead of judging them or getting angry with them. One way I think celebrities can help show their support is by speaking out against dating abuse and publicizing resources, like the National Domestic Violence Hotline or loveisrespect.org, that help victims and survivors of dating abuse.” - Sarah
“While it is Rihanna’s personal choice to choose whether or not to let bygones be bygones with Chris Brown, their public reconciliation through collaborating on these new pieces of music may have an unintended effect on fans. As a music star, Rihanna holds a position of influence with today’s adolescents. While the collaboration with Chris may bring in millions in revenue, it also sends out the calamitous message to those who admire her that domestic violence to something that is trivial and easily dismissible.
Basically, she can choose what she wants to do with her life, but as a public figure she should be more mindful of the negative impact she could be having on the millions of people watching her.” - Caiqian
“When I saw the tweets coming from Chris Brown’s fans during the Grammys, I wasn’t shocked — I was disappointed. We’ve come so far in changing attitudes around abuse, but obviously we have a lot more work to do.” - Cristina
“While it is sad to see what Chris Brown did to Rihanna, what is even more disturbing is the perpetuation of this type of behavior in other TV shows, movies and music. Young society will not change their beliefs about what a healthy relationship should look like until better behaviors are modeled. Extreme jealousy and controlling behavior has become the norm because of what is being modeled. It is no wonder these girls would say what they did [responding that they would welcome abuse from Chris Brown] because they think that is acceptable and believe that is what one should put up with in a relationship.
Attacking Chris Brown is not going to help him recognize he needs to change and it will only thrust Rihanna closer to him, just like in any real life abusive relationship. He needs to be held accountable and that begins by people demanding better role models.” - Melissa K.
“I think Chris Brown and Rihanna should not be together physically in the same room even if it is for a musical collaboration. By being together in the same room, it could make it easy to fall back into old habits. I mean, ultimately the decision is hers, but it is setting the wrong example for young girls and women out there who look up to her as a role model for having gone through a similar situation.
How are they [fans in abusive relationships] going to feel when they see that Chris and Rihanna are together, making music? They’re going to feel helpless in a way since this celebrity who is seen as a strong woman is going back to her abuser (maybe not in terms of a relationship). It gives the impression that it is okay to do so — that abusers are capable of change and sometimes they are, but realistically it doesn’t happen often.
Furthermore, it wasn’t too long ago that she released her video/song “We Found Love” and the message of how difficult it is to leave the relationship. Now that there is a collaboration between the two, it could leave a confusing message to viewers.
Either way, it is not the message that should be sent. Ultimately, people need to know the danger of going back to an abuser, not that it is okay to.” - Doan
“The whole situation regarding Rihanna and Chris Brown and their latest musical duet together carries a problematic representation to future generations of our society. Although it troubles me to believe that these musicians should be considered role models in our society, their unique position and celebrity status often presents what is considered the social norm or rather the standard for others to behave.
When a person is a victim of domestic violence and abuse, this must be a very difficult and frustrating position to be in, and the victim may often feel conflicted about what exactly to do. In my opinion, I don’t blame Rihanna for the choices she makes in her life. Leaving an abusive partner and relationship is not an easy task, yet whether knowingly or unknowingly, future generations in our society might be influenced by this incident when they go out and form their own intimate partner relationships.” - Shane
“Responses to the news of Rhianna & Chris Brown’s relationship are all too familiar and frightening. Rhianna is blamed and belittled for her decision to re-enter into a relationship with her abusive ex-boyfriend. As we know, leaving an abuser is difficult and can take many tries. Stating that Rihanna has a mental illness or some sort of weakness for returning to him diminishes the struggles that folks in abusive relationships face.
Claiming that Rihanna has a mental illness, which is causing her to return to Chris Brown, relies on racist stereotypes that black women are psychologically and physiologically inept and therefore deserving of their oppression.” - Lars
“The average domestic violence victim tries leaving 7 times before they do for good. Rihanna just happens to be famous. There is no reason that we should expect her situation to be easier to deal with than that of a normal victim. If anything, the spotlight has to accentuate her pain. Rihanna didn’t ask to be abused. While we want her young fans to know that they deserve a healthy relationship, it’s hard to ask Rihanna to deal with her pain a certain way, just so we can benefit.” -Kelly
“Celebrity or not, both Chris Brown and Rihanna are humans in a relationship. This [situation — a victim returning to an abuser] is constantly happening daily! Rihanna is not alone in the struggle to escape the reoccurring pattern. On a less serious note, really again? Come on girl you can do better than that!” - Isabel
“CM Punk puts the blame squarely where it belongs, on Chris Brown’s shoulders. As a society we need to realize that Rihanna and any victim of interpersonal violence is not to blame in any way, shape or form for the abuse that Chris Brown did to her. And that fact that she has returned to her abuser is something that we as a society should take seriously and also understand is not surprising.
Women on average return to their abuser anywhere from 9-12 times before they finally leave for good. As a community, we need to support Rihanna. If I were a friend of hers, I would tell her that I know it is hard, and I understand that it may take a while, but I will always be here for her when — and if — she decides to leave. I will be there for her in any way I can.
We need to focus on what Chris Brown did and CM Punk is right that cleaning up trash on the side of the road does not make him [Chris] a changed man. Until he understands the dynamics of power and control, he will never be able to treat any woman with respect.” - Melissa S.
“If I could talk to Rihanna, I would tell her that whether she likes it or not, she is a role model, and while her and Chris Brown are adults and can do what they want, the have a certain responsibility to their fans.
It is common for victims of intimate partner violence to return to their abuser, but as observers of Rihanna’s life we should have sympathy for what she experienced and try and understand that there might be more to the story then what we hear in the media. Abuse happens in relationships more often than people realize, and I really hope that Rihanna uses her experience to educate teens and young adults on what resources are out there for them.” - Samantha
“I think the way that everybody is talking about it in the media mirrors the ways in which abuse victims who aren’t famous are subjected to people telling them what to do (“just leave him”) and criticized and blamed for staying and/or going back. However, as someone who has chosen to be a celebrity, she has a somewhat of a responsibility to be a good role model for her young female fans.” - Britney