I keep thinking about the alleged assault against pop singer Rihanna by her boyfriend. It is very upsetting to hear about something like that. In the back of my mind though, I can’t help but think that, if the allegations are true, this is an opportunity to bring the issue of domestic violence into the spotlight for a new generation of women. This terrible situation emphasizes the fact that domestic violence does not just affect a certain kind of powerless, easily victimized woman. It also happens to smart, confident, beautiful, talented and famous women. It can happen to anyone.
Again, I know there are a lot of rumors swirling around right now, and it will probably take some time until things calm down and the truth actually comes out. However, if Rihanna was assaulted by her boyfriend, I really, really hope she publicly and decisively ends their relationship. This would send the message that battery is not ok, is not acceptable, and is not forgivable. It is a really important message for many, many women to receive, particularly from someone who is very much in the public eye and who many view as a role model.
In my limited experience working with victims of domestic violence a few years ago, I spent two days receiving educational training on the subject, and the most surprising information I learned about it was that the average battered woman leaves her partner around 7 different times before she leaves him for good. While this information shocked me initially, it began to make more sense once it was put into context. A lot of abused women do not have the financial resources to leave their partners, nor do they have the support they need from family and friends in order to make a final break. Also, they often feel trapped in their abusive relationships because they have children with their partners. In Rihanna’s situation, as far as I know, none of these issue should be a factor.
I realize that it is Rihanna’s choice to make, and that what ever she decides to do, it should be what is best for her personally, and not for her public image. But, since she has chosen to be a celebrity, I would hope that she will take into consideration the fact that her choices and actions are going to be watched and judged by millions of fans. Nobody wants to be the face of domestic violence, but right now Rihanna has the opportunity to set a powerful example for women everywhere who are in abusive relationships, by the actions she takes to change her own situation and show the consequences of domestic violence.
Note: Sorry about all the angry! I’ll be funny more soon, I promise.