NEW YORK — While Chris Brown was the one who was sentenced Monday (June 22) after striking a plea deal, the judge at the hearing also spoke to Rihanna and told her to avoid her onetime boyfriend under a "stay away" order.
According to an abuse expert, the judge's actions send "the wrong message" to victims.
"It's difficult when the criminal-justice system gets involved, because suddenly, the victim is on the sideline," said Bea Hanson, who works at Safe Horizon, an organization in Manhattan that helps abuse victims. "It's really about the abuser, and in this case, you have someone who sounded like she wanted to be with him. And the problem with the 'stay away' is the judge in that case said to her [that] it's as much about her as it is him. And that really sends the wrong message to victims of domestic violence. Because she's not the one that hit him; she was hit. And what it ends up looking like is that this [order] is something against her as well."
Under the guidelines of the order, Brown can't contact Rihanna in any fashion for five years, which is the duration of his probation. Brown isn't even allowed to be in the vicinity of Rihanna during events that both celebrities might attend. According to Rihanna's attorney, Donald Etra, the judge told his client that if she were to contact Brown, it would be a violation against him that could have him facing jail time.
Etra also told media gathered outside of the courthouse following the hearing that Rihanna didn't want the "stay away" order issued against Brown. She thought the previous order of protection was fine.
Hanson said these types of decisions are difficult for any former couple to deal with, but grow larger in domestic-abuse cases.
"The problem here is that closure is imposed by somebody outside the relationship," she said.
In addition to the probation, Brown also has to complete 180 days of community labor and undergo a year's worth of domestic-abuse counseling.
Hanson suggested that Rihanna undergo some type of additional healing process as well, whether it's counseling or a retreat: "Whatever it is for her that makes her feel like a strong woman," she said.
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