The issue of domestic violence was pushed into the spotlight this weekend when reports emerged that singer Chris Brown was allegedly involved in a physical confrontation with girlfriend Rihanna . While police are not identifying Rihanna as the woman injured in the incident that occurred on Sunday morning, TMZ has reportedly confirmed that the the 20-year-old singer was the victim in the case and that she identified Brown, 19, as her attacker.
The alleged assault has shed light on a 2007 interview Brown did with Giant magazine, in which he said his mother had been physically abused by his stepfather. “He used to hit my mom,” the singer told the magazine. “He made me terrified all the time, terrified like I had to pee on myself. I remember one night he made her nose bleed. I was crying and thinking, ‘I’m just gonna go crazy on him one day.’ … I hate him to this day.”
Emil Wilbekin, editor in chief of Giant, told MTV News on Monday (February 9) that if the allegations prove true, they fit a sadly predictable chain of abuse. “In the 2007 article, he talks about his abusive stepfather beating on his mother, and unfortunately, that type of behavior often becomes a pattern within families,” Wilbekin said. “It’s a little sad, because he is a role model for so many young men and has so many young female fans. It does send a really bad message.”
Detectives investigating the alleged domestic-violence felony battery booked the singer for criminal threats in the case and released him on $50,000 bail; additional charges may be filed. A spokesperson for Brown could not be reached for comment at press time. TMZ is reporting that an unnamed police source said Rihanna suffered contusions and bite marks in the alleged assault.
The incident came just two days after the end of National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Week, a three-year-old effort to get out the warning signs about violence among young people (16-24) in relationships.
Among those signs, according to experts, are intense jealousy, excessive text messaging or calling, monitoring calls or e-mails, frequently showing up unannounced, telling the other person what to do or wear, publicly embarrassing your partner, frequent accusations of “cheating” or flirting, keeping your partner from doing things they enjoy, and threats of suicide or self-injury in the event of a breakup.
The awareness week brought some sobering statistics from around the country, such as those from the Texas Council on Family Violence, which reported that 75 percent of Texans age 16-24 who were surveyed reported experiencing dating violence or knowing someone who had.
Back in 2007, of being physically and emotionally abused in her first relationship, in order to let other teens know that they’re not alone. Just 14 when she started dating a senior in high school, Kendrick said she and her boyfriend, known for his quick temper, rapidly escalated to saying they loved each other and would be together forever within months of beginning their relationship.
After her parents forbade her to see her boyfriend, she snuck off to meet him, and it was during those times when he would become physically abusive. “You’re stuck. You’re being controlled. You don’t know what to do,” she said, describing the situation as being “stuck in a black hole.”
Even after breaking up over the phone, Kendrick said she was terrified for weeks that the boyfriend would physically harm her but that the emotional abuse she suffered was equally damaging. “When someone has that much power over your routine and your schedule, and you’re getting no say in your own life, that’s a form of abuse,” she said, referring to the use of e-mail, IM and texts by an abusive partner as a means of control.
“Teen dating violence, it can be prevented. This isn’t a disease that we’re trying to find a cure for,” she said. “This is something that can be prevented if we teach people about it.”
For more information on teen dating violence, head over to Think MTV for a video handbook on spotting the warning signs of abuse.