The Grammy’s have come and gone and we all tuned in to watch who won what and discuss the performances, right? Well, yes we found that part interesting but we also tuned in to see what had everyone’s tongue’s wagging: Chris Brown and Rihanna. The Ike and Tina of a new generation as well as the poster children for dating violence.
In case you weren’t aware, February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month. It was instituted by Congress to address the rising epidemic of teen dating violence as well as bring focus on how to prevent it. Dating violence is a major problem within our country. According to www.teendvmonth.org, nearly 1.5 million high school students nationwide experience physical abuse from a dating partner in a single year. The effects of dating violence can be just as bad, violent relationships in adolescence can have serious consequences by putting the victims at higher risk for substance abuse, eating disorders, risky sexual behavior and further domestic violence.
With dating violence rates growing alarmingly and increasing the likelihood of abusive behaviors down the line, it’s no wonder more people are starting become aware and educate themselves about how to prevent it. But, how do parents and educators explain this to teenagers when they see Chris Brown and Rihanna back together smiling? What message does that send to those in abusive relationships?
In November 2009 everyone remembers seeing the released photos of Rihanna just a few weeks after her mysterious absence from the Grammy’s. The photos showed Rihanna’s battered face covered in bruises resulting from a violent outburst from Brown. Following the leak, Rihanna agreed to an interview with Diane Sawyer where she said, “When I realized that my selfish decision for love could result in some young girl getting killed, I could not be easy with that part […] who’s to say that their boyfriend won’t kill these girls.” That being said, their relationship was put to an end.
Now in 2012, the two are back together. Rihanna recently drew criticism for accompanying Brown to his probation hearing, where he was brought forth for not completing his community service. The two also recorded a song together entitled ‘Nobody’s Business.” Unfortunately though, domestic and dating violence is everyone’s business. Especially when the consequences can be deadly.
No one is pointing a finger at Chris Brown and Rihanna saying, ‘You must be role models for young adults!” That’s not their responsibility. While, Rihanna has willingly returned to her abuser, she does not deserve to be blamed. Instead of trying to avoid discussing this situation with teenagers and young adults, the Chris Brown and Rihanna situation should encourage parents to openly discuss healthy and unhealthy relationships with their children.
Dating violence like domestic violence can happen to anyone and often times it’s not that easy to solve. Many of times, victims are reluctant to leave for various reasons. Sometimes, they don’t know they are being abused. Other times, they feel they can’t for fear of money, shelter, or safety. There are even times when they feel they deserve the abuse. There are numerous reasons but the most important thing we must keep in mind is that abuse does happen and we must educate people to know the signs and what resources are available to the victims and their support system. As parents and mentors, we must be able to turn to our children and say “I know you saw Chris Brown and Rihanna together. What do you think about that? Do you think they have a healthy relationship? Why or why not?” It is also up to us to guide them should they be the victim or they know someone who is. No one deserves to be abused and no victim deserves to be blamed. Instead we need to continue to plant the seeds about what dating violence is and how to prevent it.
If you are interested in learning more about dating violence please visit: http://www.teendvmonth.org/
If you or a loved one is facing domestic violence please contact Laurel House at 1-800-642-3150.