Domestic violence can happen to anyone

By Lynne McMillan

By now the entire world has seen the leaked pictures of R&B; singer Rihanna’s beaten and bruised face. Although allegations are still flying and court dates are yet to come, it is pretty obvious this brutality happened at the hands of her boyfriend and fellow super star Chris Brown.

So why, in the past week, have I had to manually switch the radio station on at least three separate occasions when a Chris Brown song has come on? Why has the outrage over this public couple’s violent relationship been relatively constrained to fan blogs and prepared statements from both singers’ fathers?

Kudos to Wrigley’s for immediately revoking its commercials featuring Brown, but the protest should not stop there.

It is truly disturbing that more outrage has been waged at TMZ.com, the paparazzi Web site responsible for buying the picture (for around $60,000) and then publishing it, than at Chris Brown. The Los Angeles Police Department has launched a huge investigation to find out who sold the picture, which is rumored to be a police photo, to the press.

Granted, no one deserves to have her beaten face sold for another’s profit and smeared across every Web site on the Internet, especially at the hands of a public official.

But aren’t we missing the point here? What we really should be discussing is the fact that these “role models,” idolized and looked up to by the public, particularly by teenagers, got in such an awful fight that a young woman ended up with atrocious bruises and probably more serious emotional scars.

I applaud TMZ for publishing the picture but not because it has given them the attention and web traffic sites like theirs thrive on.

Putting this picture up verifies what everyone has been wondering for weeks: Is it true and how bad is it?

Whether she likes it or not, Rihanna is the face of a domestic violence victim. If it can happen to her, the girl who turned a song about an umbrella into a smash, it can happen to anyone.

Too often people think of domestic violence victims as helpless, or possibly even enablers of their own fate. Hopefully, Rihanna will be able to change the way people think about domestic violence issues, but to do so, she is going to have to start talking.

Reports have already begun surfacing that Rihanna still “loves” Chris Brown and is contemplating a reunion once this whole incident blows over. If that happens, her career deserves to suffer just as much as his likely will. She has the chance to be more of a role model than any pop singer could ever be for women and girls in harmful relationships, and she has a moral responsibility to seize that opportunity.

Her platform is hopefully filled with personal lessons learned. She should leverage her experience to help all of the people that worship her realize that domestic violence is never OK, no matter how young/old, beautiful/ugly or poor/rich you are.

In the past, Chris Brown used his experience growing up in a home with an abusive stepfather as his platform on talk shows.

It looks as if that was either just a pathetic attempt to get on the Tyra Banks show or an example of hypocrisy at its finest. Chris Brown should have known better, and I hope Rihanna and the Los Angeles District Attorney make an example out of his detestable behavior.

While it’s sad that it took a cancelled Grammy’s performance to get young people talking about domestic violence, there is no time like the present to talk about the problem that may be affecting even the most picture perfect couples.