i am thankful every day that i've never dated someone who has or would hit me. that is a terror i've never known, and pray that i never will. i do know what intimate partner violence can do. the losses of asia, latoyia, and san-dee serve as reminders to us all that women die because of intimate partner violence (also known as domestic violence, or domestic abuse). the very idea of the typical domestic abuse victim is seared into the consciousness of many people in the united states: she's timid, she's probably very pretty, she is attacked without having provoked her mate, and she always goes back. the attacker is always someone who's been emasculated to some degree -- maybe his education level isn't what hers is (or anyone else's, like being a 10th grade dropout when everyone else is at least a high school grad), or he's dyslexic, or whatever. it's mister from the color purple concentrated, it's laurence fishburn as ike turner, it's every lifetime movie shitbag boyfriend joined together like voltron.
it's never the sparkling smile of chris brown that spits threats or curse words, bites you or calls you names. it's never rihanna's pretty face that is pummeled with fists. it's always some nameless or faceless couple on "cops." it's always someone whose name has been changed to protect her because he's stalking her. (and it's always a hetero couple, but that's another issue for another time.) and this seems to be the root of the problem to me: celebrity, or fame, and the perception of "our" stars as anything other than human. they are not necessarily regarded as human, even in times of tragedy (see: the losses jennifer hudson's, bill cosby's, and the late marlon brando's close family members). they are still these perfectly unreal creations -- half of "their" public's imagination, and half illusion borne of spin doctors. celebrity is a tricky thing. it's fleeting, but so demanding. what does this pressure cooker life do to someone who's barely a maturing child when they enter it, and is simply fortunate to be a functioning adult if/ when they leave it?
i ask this question because i don't believe for one minute that this is a black and white situation (meaning chris, the aggressor, bears all the fault or that rihanna, the victim, instigated her own ass kicking). i take into account that chris witnessed domestic abuse for as many as 6 years of his life (that's 1/3 of his time on earth, roughly). i understand that the highly invasive reports that are being shared pretty much confirm that rihanna was upset over a potential (or continued) infidelity on chris's part. i understand that it's likely that brown no longer wished to be in a relationship with her -- but check this out: you can end a relationship with someone without hitting them. you can make your point clear without fists and bitemarks.
my concerns are for the privacy and safety of both of these young people. there are threats being made against both of them, there's a lot of hearsay and conjecture. there are terrible jokes being made. it is now a verb to chris brown someone -- to beat their ass. unacceptable. the facts are known only by the persons who were present for the incident that was reported to the police. that's not for any of us to learn about or gossip about. this is deeper than whether someone gave someone herpes, or whether someone's cheating on someone else.
it is indicative of the fact that we all have work to do: work to heal, work to grow, work to end cycles. violence is never okay in a relationship, regardless of who throws the first punch. intimate partner violence exists when women hit men, when men hit each other, and when women hit women. intimate partner violence exists when we are unable or unwilling to talk about what hurts or bothers us, and when we don't understand that it's never okay to strike someone you love. unless it's self defense, it is wrong. always wrong.
this interview that jay smooth did with elizabeth mendez berry speaks much to why it doesn't matter specifically that it's a celebrity dealing with intimate partner violence.