As you have undoubtedly already heard, reports are surging in that Chris Brown and Rihanna are back together. (One supposes these reports could be untrue but no one seems to be out there denying them.) Which is at once infuriating and unsurprising to people who have lived with and/or known of domestic violence, or advocated for its victims.
First, anger. Here is what the idiot PR intern employed by Chris Brown’s flack (who you gotta figure, has other clients who have not recently hurt other people that he ought to be focussed on) leaked to the press (I’m speculating it was an intern but who the fuck talks like this and/or defends this kind of behaviour gratis?):
While Chris is reflective and saddened about what happened, he is really happy to be with the woman he loves.
Well, so long as he’s happy. Fucktwit.
Now on to total lack of surprise and immense frustration. I had sort of figured this would happen, not because I think Rihanna’s weak or silly or deluded. (Although, since when did we all accept that “victim” is a slur rather than a statement of actual, living fact?) But because the overwhelming tide of public opinion probably matched her own need to forgive him. We’d all like to sweep these incidents under the rug, forget about them, talk about how they were the product of individual circumstances. How life is complicated. How no one should get involved in a private matter. How no one should speak for victims because that would be “appropriating their voices.” Maybe she didn’t mind it, maybe she hit first, they can work things out between them, on and on and on until we move on to the next shocking story some PR flack dishes out for our collective entertainment and titillation.
Meanwhile, I think Rihanna went back because she is just like me, and for me, it’s never as obvious or simple as “this is what I need to do to protect myself.” As we all probably know, it’s an incredibly hard thing to see in the moment and from your own eyes. She went back because everything was getting way too out of hand and it is always easier to do what that person you love beyond all measure of reason wants you to do. She went back for the same reasons my tiny, feisty, French Canadian grandmother never left my grandfather, that a cousin of mine stayed with the man who eventually killed her. Because the thing in this culture that women are supposed to value above all things is their attachment, by hook or by crook, to another person. Because your circumstances are particular to your relationship, and those particulars are the reason you do it.
But not yourself. Never yourself. No, you, and the bruises on your face are never the particulars that matter in these situations. Not to others, and certainly not to you, because you don’t want to hurt his reputation or your own, because he is a person, because he has faults like anyone else’s and there’s no reason to be so hard on him.
Just once, just once though, I’d like us to tell these women: this isn’t about him. This is about you.
Rail on in the comments.