Monday, June 22, 2009

This Isn't About Chris Brown

Singer Chris Brown, who was accused of assaulting fellow singer Rihanna, pled guilty and was sentenced in Los Angeles Criminal Court yesterday.


Under the terms, Brown will serve five years probation and must serve 180 days in jail or the equivalent – which is about 1,400 house of community, labor-intensive service. He must also attend domestic violence classes for a year.

Even better.

But this isn’t about Brown, this is about Rihanna and women like her who think that this kind of relationship won’t and can’t happen to them again. Unfortunately that’s just not the case.

Brown previously pleaded not guilty to one count of assault with intent to harm when he and Rihanna argued in a car in February in Hollywood and we saw the horrific pictures of Rihanna’s battered and bruised face on Internet sites and gossip shows.

Yesterday, Rihanna was in the courtroom, but only after Chris Brown had left. She listened to the judge’s issuance of the “stay away” order that Brown must follow. Shockingly, through her attorney, Rihanna had requested that no such order be put in place.

And that’s the truly sad part of this story. The judge did the right thing in sentencing Chris Brown, but Judge Patricia Schnegg should’ve sentenced Rihanna to court-appointed counseling for her own well-being.

Too many times we have seen victims of physical and verbal abuse repeat the same pattern of behavior. We have seen women fall into bad, abusive relationships with men who are violent and verbally abusive. Countless women, who are victims of abuse, will say that they don’t see the signs until it’s too late or can’t figure out why they can’t find a healthy relationship. It’s not about finding the right person, it’s recognizing why you choose to be with someone who doesn’t respect you and thinks that abuse is acceptable.

If Rihanna doesn’t get the counseling she needs, she will wind up in another abusive relationship and worse; another statistic of violence against women.

What Chris Brown did was horrific and should not be tolerated. He needs mandatory counseling to not only understand, but also un-learn what he thinks is acceptable behavior.

Rihanna needs to un-learn what an unhealthy relationship is before it’s too late.

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