One result of Chris Brown and Rihanna’s experience this year, from the assault to the aftermath, is that it has helped to open up a dialogue among young people to discuss domestic abuse in teen relationships.
“It’s important for anyone to know that if this can happen to Chris Brown and Rihanna, then it can happen to anyone,” Dr. Michelle Callahan, a developmental psychologist, told MTV News in a discussion for “Chris Brown: The Interview.” “Domestic violence happens in all neighborhoods, regardless of income, city or rural — it doesn’t matter, this can happen to anyone at any time. So it’s important for kids to also know: Don’t be ashamed. Don’t be embarrassed. If you’re going through something like this or if you’re doing it, if you’re the victim or the abuser, feel free to confide in someone and let them know what you’re going through. And lastly, never, ever, should there be violence in a dating relationship. It’s always wrong.”
In either case, Dr. Michelle advised that the most important thing for a young man or woman in an abusive situation is to get out immediately. She cautioned that many avoid ending relationships for fear of losing someone they care about, but she said leaving a violent loved one will be better in the end before things escalate.
“It’s important for young women to know this is not a sign of love,” she urged. “Violence, controlling behavior and abusive behavior is not love.”
Callahan suggested that young men or women, abusers or the one being abused, should seek out a responsible, trustworthy adult should they find themselves in a threatening situation. She said a mature individual can better help lead young people to counseling. And more than anything, Dr. Michelle said teens should realize the consequences of abuse.
“It’s very important that they realize this: You can get into a lot of trouble,” Callahan explained. “Not only can you seriously get hurt or hurt someone you love, you can get into a lot of trouble. You get involved in the legal system. You can go to jail. There’s a lot at stake.
“Violence is never an acceptable way to respond to things in a relationship,” she added.