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Will Rihanna Help Domestic Violence Victims By Speaking Out?

Photo Courtesy of ABC

Photo Courtesy of ABC

Pop Star Rihanna recently appeared in an  interview on ABC’s “20-20” and “Good Morning America” to discuss the violence she experienced at the hands of fellow singer and ex-boyfriend Chris Brown. Click here to watch the interview.

Social workers are at the forefront in helping domestic violence victims and educating the public about  the issue.

Question: Do you think Rihanna’ s willingness to speak out will help other domestic violence victims come forward, especially teenagers and young adults? Please leave your comments below.

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  1. As a survivor of domestic abuse who now works with young people on this issue, I believe it will bring much needed attention to the issue, but I don’t know how much it will help from a tangible stand point. There is a lot of work to be done with youth on this issue.

  2. From NASW Facebook Page:

    Cynthia F: great interview….raw honesty, which is what abused men and women need to hear….YES MEN too….when are we gonna acknowledge that men are also being abused and provide help and shelter programs for them? maybe if there was more awareness…men wouldn’t be so ashamed to come forward and report!

  3. From NASW Facebook Page:

    Rachelle G.: I am watching it now, and as a victim myself ( as a teen/ early 20s) I can relate very much to what she says… And I think her honesty and candor will be a help, even if to get a dialogue going in popular culture.

  4. From NASW Facebook page:

    April B.: I work in a DV shelter and I know that abuse can definitly go both ways. Some women are the aggressors and will initiate abuse. It’s not always the male over powering the woman. I do not condone violence at all but my gut is telling me that Rihanna is not telling the whole story. My aunt would always say that there are two sides to the story and… Read More the truth in between. I do agreed with Cynthia Folesteanu about getting programs for men who are abused. I feel that we also need to support Chris Brown because he needs help as a young man and he witnessed his mother being abused. Something like that never leaves you

  5. From NASW Facebook Page:

    Tammy A.: I myself have been in a domestic violence situation and it’s not fun at all. So yes she should speak up and let them know how she feels. All women should do the same and speak up for themselves. We all should just joins hands and pray to god that we can have all unit as one in the end!!! GOD BLESS!!

  6. From NASW Facebook Page:

    Susan W. M.: I hope so. I admire her ability to think beyond herself and consider the impact of her remaining in a violent relationship would have on her young fans. She did not want her fans to think it was okay to stay in such a relationship. So many public figures today only think of themselves and not the example they are setting for their young fans or society.

  7. From NASW Facebook Page:

    Jackie M.: Every voice helps!

  8. From NASW Facebook Page:

    Rachel C.: YES!!!

  9. From NASW Facebook Page:

    Sarah Mae H.: By speaking out I believe that it may give some strength and hope to her young fans who view her as a role model. She shows courage by speaking out, but do I think it will massivly change what is happening in our society? It definately will bring attention to Domestic Violence, but there needs to be more education and awareness for men and women. … Read MoreMany people don’t think it will happen to them until it does and like Rhianna said she was embarrassed that she had even fallen in love with someone capable of doing something like that. I agree with April, as I was watching I had a ton of red flag go up there seemed to be a lot she wasn’t saying.

  10. From NASW Facebook Page:

    Mario E.: im not sure… her message was mixed…

  11. From NASW Facebook Page:

    Karla E.: I also, feel her message was mixed. She at one point did not see him pushing prior to the insident as DV. She appeared to only feel DV is getting hit by him, even the interviewer questioned her when she said it had not happened before.

  12. From NASW Facebook Page:

    Wilma G.: I totally agree with Mario and Karla….her message was so mixed.

  13. From NASW Facebook Page:

    Meka H.: It is my belief that Rihanna’s message is mixed also. She does not know what she want to do at this time. If the 5 year ban was not in place she would be with him today. I believe DV is wrong no matter who the aggressor is. Some times money make people do things they really don’t want to do (go on tv to say I hate Chris). If they are going to put a 5 yr ban on this relationship then they should do that with all DV cases.

  14. From the NASW Facebook Page:

    Maureen F: Rihanna is, first and foremost, still an everyday person like us. Those of us who work with women of domestic violence know it is, sadly, common for women to feel confused: wanting to leave & wanting to love … Women all over the world are just like her in this fashion … Being a famous singer is secondary to Rhianna being a woman in a domestic violence situation.

  15. From the NASW Facebook Page:

    Janet R.: absolutely

  16. From the NASW Facebook Page:

    Melissa S.: Yes, it will help domestic violence victims. The first step is to acknoledge that someone’s story is similar to your own in some cases. She will assure victims that they are not alone and someone has suffered abuse also.

  17. From the NASW Facebook Page:

    Karla E.: It could also be that she is very young and yes, a lot of women do go back. It’s part of the cycle of violence. I do think it is important to talk about it because it happens to a lot of women and teenagers. I just think it is important to understand the cycle of violence and what is Domestic Violence and it is not just being physically hit or … Read Morehaving to have phyical bruices for it to be DV. It is important for the young women and men to know what is the definition of DV. Rihanna definately is a public figure and there are a lot of young girls who look upto her, so speaking out is important, but my point is that she minimize prior incidents that are considered DV

  18. From the NASW Facebook Page:

    Kim G.: I think that Rihanna’s interview was AWESOME – so genuine. I think others will support her, and speak out on their understanding of the issue, whether it is through personal or vicarious (friends, family) experience. Rihanna is so captivating to watch, so beautiful – one might think that violence could not happen to her. Surely seeing her before pic and now have made an impact.

  19. From the NASW Facebook Page:

    Gayle E.: I feel she’s being very honest about the struggle over staying or going. God bless this strong woman who wasn’t going to let someone lie, cheat, beat & get one over!

  20. From the NASW Facebook Page:

    Elena S.: I think she is doing a fantastic job handling this. Not every 19 year old woman could confront this type of issue in such a public way. Kudos to her for realizing that fans and other young people are watching her at this time.

  21. From the NASW Facebook Page:

    Nancy H.: I like that there i s more dialogue. Whether you believe it takes two to fight, domestic violence is against the law. It took a long time to stop the cycle of abuse in NY and other states in the 1970s. No one deserves to be battered, emotionally or physically. Kudos to all who speak out!

  22. From the NASW Facebook Page:

    El Drake: Since the incident earlier in the year, organizations have been using her situation as an example for young girls. She is scheduled to be on 20/20 Fri. Let’s see…

  23. I am concerned that no one seems to have bee really LISTENING to all of what Rihanna has been brave enough to say! She is expressing pain and confusion about the issue of LOVE and how devastating it is to feel SHAME for loving someone! Where is our empathy? This is a very central issue and it seems therapists and helpers get sidetracked by their own emotional reactions or opinions about abuse and abusers and are not hearing this. Public exposure, criticism and judgments add injury to injury. I am speaking from years of clinical experience, and from living with people, in pointing out that we aren’t saying much that is helpful about the drive to find/have someone to love, even for gorgeous celebrities. Beauty and wealth can make it even more difficult to find that “true love” and best friend we long for. When emotional or physical abuse arise most “victims” do take action, not to jump ship but to “fix” the problem while keeping it a secret, if possible. Shame- am I loveable, am I able to love – issues, go to the core. And the message from self-help books, therapists, couples counselors (and most spiritual leaders as well) is that we all need patience and understanding and tolerance of conflict to heal and to stay the course in a relationship. There is also the issue of self-defense, or of verbally or physically or emotionally hurting the hurter. Now “the victim” may be shamed for her (or his) aggression and judged “a perpetrator”. We have a social problem here – are we not perpetuating violence when judging, criticizing and shaming 2 people who are in serious trouble? Are we helping anyone learn how to live without attacking when frustrated or hurt? Perhaps education about personality disorders occurring in 10% of the population (sorry, I don’t have the citation at hand) and education to recognize and the patterns in youngsters and youth would be helpful. But first of all, LISTEN.

  24. I watched this interview and I have to say that I commend her bravery for going forth in agreeing to speak out on what happened to her that night. During the first year of my field placement within my MSW program, I had the opportunity to work in a DV shelter and the victims that I’ve come across were very confused about the abuse they endured; some were not sure where they would turn after the left the shelter as they didn’t have money or family to stay with and this is a major concern for me as so many women return to their abusers. I found that it is very easy to say what one would do in such a situation but as a social worker, it seems the hands are tied as you give empathy to your client about such a situation and yet they are free to make their own decisions. I’m not sure what can be done to really get the message across so many people world wide but domestic violence is real and many around the world already know this; I think what makes Rihanna’s situation unique is that she is wealthy and came forward to speak about it aside from the fact it was in the media and tabloids but this sort of violence occurs to many women every single day, every single minute, every single hour and let’s not forget the children who witness the violence are apart of it. The cycle is deadly and as social workers, we must listen to our clients to find the better part of life they wish to live. This topic is so hard to truly decipher as what is the answer to stop violence? Society and communities do not understand that they play a major role in the spread of domestic violence. I’ve often heard my clients say that they dated the guy because they would receive funny looks from others (mainly women) if they didn’t have a man or were single. Our society and communities do not uplift women the way they should and many times over women are not taught that it’s very important to have your own things before you allow yourself to become one with a man (marriage or partner); this is a huge problem to me as so many women go to men for economic reasons but then we could also discuss how the wage gap is still an issue…something I truly do not understand when more women are in the work force than men but getting back to the issue at hand. I’m not sure what the answer is as it takes the average woman 7 or 9 times of returning to her abuser before leaving for good; sometimes it’s too late and they never make it out. I’ve also had the pleasure of hearing women say they struck first but he didn’t have to hit me back; since when is it okay for either gender to hit the other? We have to stop this and it’s not okay; I don’t care who’s hitting who…it’s simply not right! We have resources, agencies, and shelters across the board to help women, children, and men who suffer at the hands of domestic violence but the cycle is not decreasing and these children who grow up in these homes continue the cycle as well. I’m not sure what is the answer but again, I do commend her for speaking out about what happened to her and I do see why it’s quite confusing as love was involved in the situation but any type of abuse is not love, period and I don’t know what it will take before so many of us around the world will understand this, especially those who come from broken homes and think it’s okay when they begin to see the signs of abuse.

  25. I am glad that Rihanna told her story in this Interview. Domestic Violence is a touchy and sensitive topic and many Women and Men are victims…….I’m glad that Rihanna is able to positively use her “stardom” to get an important message out to others. “Breaking the Silence is Vital!!!!….”

  26. I believe that Rihanna’s willingness to speak out about being the victim of domestic violence will definitely help other dometic violence victims. Shining a light on the issue helps others summon the courage to face their own personal circumstances. I believe this is particularly true for teenage and young adult victims, because they are her contemporaries.

    E. A. Wahrburg, MSW, LCSW (NC, NY)

  27. Rihanna is my idol because she is a great singer. She is also a very sexy woman and she somewhat have that exotic beauty that men love.

  28. it is just to bad that Rihanna had a physically abusive boyfriend like Chris Brown. she is a very talented and beautiful woman, she does not deserve to be beaten by a guy like chris brown.

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