An international stand against domestic violence

By Stephanie Youssef

Here are a few facts nobody remembers about the 2009 Grammy Awards: Coldplay performed “Viva la Vida,” Robert Plant & Alison Krauss took home the award for “Record of the Year,” and Kanye West didn’t do anything all that controversial.

However, one significant event concerning the 2009 Grammys that is still discussed today surrounds the domestic abuse scandal between Rihanna and her boyfriend at the time, Chris Brown.

This week, Chris Brown made the news again as Australia announced they denied him a visa due to his history of abusive behavior. Since October marks Domestic Abuse Awareness Month, I say we should take this Chris Brown visa incident to begin a serious discussion about domestic abuse.

Michaela Cash, the women’s minister of Australia, said that with regards to Brown’s visa application, “People need to understand if you are going to commit domestic violence and then you want to travel around the world, there are going to be countries that say to you, ‘You cannot come in because you are not of the character we expect.” These are good steps in the right direction with regards to taking domestic abuse seriously rather than overlooking it because of Brown’s fame.

Chris Brown is not the only celebrity who has been wrapped up in an abuse scandal. Sean Penn, Hope Solo, Floyd Mayweather and Ray Rice are some of a long list of celebrities who have been accused in the past. But when these celebrities are suspected of domestic violence, much of the attention goes to the star, their character, their actions and their fame — or infamy. Thus, many of these Hollywood level abuse incidences have failed to begin an impactful discussion on how domestic violence affects millions of everyday families across the country. Rather, the fact that these celebrities continue their fame after their crimes sends a dangerous message that it is OK to turn a blind eye to this kind of abuse — an ignorance that is already a large part of the problem.

One in four women will experience domestic violence in their life and nearly three million men are victims of domestic violence in the United States. These victims become statistics as a result of cycles of continuously escalating physical and emotional abuse from a family member or spouse. Even given the many high profile cases of domestic abuse that make the news, the statistics surrounding this controversial issue have failed to significantly improve over the years.

This should be of special concern to college students as women ages 18 to 34 are at greatest risk of becoming victims of domestic violence. Both Chris Brown and Rihanna are extremely public figures who have a strong influence on this exact age group. After the photos of Rihanna’s beaten face surfaced in 2009, one would have thought that, after healing, Rihanna would become a role model to people around the world who have been victims of domestic abuse.

Fast forward a few years and Chris Brown regains his fame, Rihanna gets back into a relationship with Brown and records a song with him. Though Rihanna is not to blame for the initial incident, she had the opportunity to stand up for millions of victims across the country and didn’t take it. Thus after a few years, Brown put out a few good albums, the issue was swept under the rug, and with Brown’s regained fan base, it seemed though — to a certain extent — he was forgiven.

Overall, the chronicle of Chris Brown and Rihanna speaks to the fact that we have set a precedent of some lenience with a behavior that shouldn’t be tolerated. Australia joined UK and Canada in refusing entry to Brown based on his conviction — a step in the right direction to taking domestic abuse cases more seriously.

Stephanie is a senior in LAS.

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