My Mondays are currently such that I’m out and about a lot, away from the computer and other forms of media, but even I knew that Chris Brown had released a public apology, although I didn’t get to view it until this morning. Not only has a little piece of my soul died as a result of viewing it at TMZ’s website, but I’m unimpressed and unsurprised.
Back when this story first broke, “Chris” did a guest post for us. You might want to read it again. You’ll find at least when it comes to fauxpologizing, he’s a man of his word. Technically, he did apologize, using the words “I’m sorry,” but he didn’t make it clear what he was apologizing for (to wit: beating the shit out of the woman he claimed to love). Instead he used the phrase “what occurred in February” (which was when he beat the shit out of the woman he claimed to love). He said he was disappointed and saddened about “the situation” (which, lest we forget, was beating the shit out of the woman he claimed to love). He mentioned his mother and spiritual teachers several times, too, and spoke of his determination to be worthy of the title “role model” (presumably by refraining from beating the shit out of the women he claims to love).
And this was his good, months-in-the-making apology.
You might guess that we Harpies are unsympathetic. You would be right. As BeckySharper wrote in email late last night: “eat shit and die, Chris.” I can’t know what’s really going on in his head. I’m sure he feels bad (poor lamb!); abusers do. For a while. But it got me wondering about whether men who beat their partners can ever really redeem themselves–not by pro forma apologizing, but by genuinely changing their behavior through therapy, anger management, whatever it takes. My super-quick query on DV recidivism points to studies indicating that between 41 and 44% of offenders become violent again within a 2 to 2-1/2 year period. So, statistically anyway, some–even most–men can go on to have violence-free relationships. Or at least relationships that don’t result in police intervention.
My experience with relationship violence is limited to a high school boyfriend, who, in the heat of an argument, raised his arm as if to backhand me, only to stop when I asked, half in fear, half in scorn: “oh, you’re gonna hit me now?” That relationship ended that night, and is long in the past, but I still occasionally wonder about that situation, and his subsequent relationships.
I want Chris Brown to legally “pay” for his crimes, sure. But more than that, I want him to never ever ever raise his hand to a woman again. How can we assure that? Do you think an abuser is always an abuser? Can a man be abusive in one relationship, but a mature, non-violent adult in another? Would you get involved with a man if you knew, or thought, he had a violent history?