Rihanna, Chris Brown Set Bad Examples for Fans

Rihanna with Chris Brown (Explored)
Image by Express Monorail via Flickr

By Amanda Toth

The first week of February was not a good time for celebrities. Olympic record-setting swimmer Michael Phelps was photographed using drugs and baseball superstar Alex Rodriguez admitted to using performance-enhancing steroids.

Then, it was reported that R&B artist Chris Brown beat and threatened his girlfriend, singer Rihanna. The two were in Brown’s car following a pre-Grammy Awards party.

According to police documents posted on celebrity website TMZ, an argument broke out in Brown’s car after Rihanna saw a text message he had received from another woman.

During the argument, he beat and punched her as he drove. He threatened her and she called her assistant and asked them to call the cops. He continued to beat her, even putting her in a headlock.

Just a few weeks after the incident, TMZ published a photo of the battered Rihanna that had been leaked from the Los Angeles Police Department. A few days after the photo was released, People magazine reported that the two had reconciled their relationship.

Rihanna, of course, is not the only woman facing domestic abuse in the United States. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, between 1 and 3 million women are abused each year. In addition, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports in its National Violence Against Women Survey that an average of three women are murdered per day, and in our lives, 25% of women will report abuse and/or rape by a partner.

Rihanna is not alone in taking back an abusive boyfriend or husband. The average woman, says psychologist Lenore Walker via MSNBC.com, is victim to three to five attacks before walking away from her significant other, usually after he asks for forgiveness and promises to not repeat the behavior.

This was not the first time for Rihanna and Brown either, as TMZ has also reported that she told authorities the night of the incident that he had done this before, and that each incident was worse than the one prior.

So what’s next for their careers? Presumably, Brown’s career will suffer. He has gone from a baby-faced singer who made an appearance on “Sesame Street” to an abusive criminal. He even has already lost an endorsement deal with Wrigley; the company has suspended the advertising campaign in which he appears.

Rihanna, however, may be able to bounce back. Pop icon Tina Turner left an abusive marriage in 1976 and went on to win eight Grammy Awards throughout her career. Rihanna has won a Grammy for “Umbrella,” her work with rapper Jay-Z. Brown has only been nominated.

Brown was extremely out of line to hit Rihanna, not only for moral reasons, but also because he is a role model for his fans. What kind of example does he set for the people that listen to his music? That it’s okay to beat one’s girlfriend? Or threaten her? Yes, Brown issued a public apology and said he was seeking help, but how does that make it better? Does this mean that an apology will absolve even the worst of beatings?

But Rihanna is also setting a bad example. By taking him back, she sends a message to her fans that domestic violence is okay, and that it’s perfectly acceptable for women to return to an abusive partner.

Rihanna and Brown are both talented and popular musicians, but unfortunately for the couple, their actions speak louder than their lyrics.

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