First of all, I need to tell you that when Chris Brown beat you up, I was heartbroken.
I was in college at the time and my roommates and I really loved you. We had your picture on our refrigerator. When the news broke, we looked at the horrible photo of your bruised and swollen face and we felt like crying. We kept your picture on our refrigerator because we supported you and we knew that you would be a strong example and inspiration for other women in abusive relationships. Unfortunately, we were wrong.
When rumors of you and Chris remaining friends surfaced, we took your photo down. I wanted so badly to understand where you were coming from, but I couldn’t.
And then, when you and Eminem came out with Love the Way You Lie, I tried to just ignore it, but it was just so bad. Years later, that ridiculous song still comes on the radio and I can never turn it off fast enough.
Just gonna stand there and watch me burn?
Well that’s alright, because I like the way it hurts.
Just gonna stand there and hear me cry?
Well that’s alright, because I love the way you lie.
I love the way you lie.
When I listen to these lyrics, I feel like you’re asking for it, which is a really horrible thing for me to think. Nobody wants to be in an abusive relationship, right? And then I hear Eminem say “If she ever tries to f**kin’ leave again, I’ma tie her to the bed and set this house on fire,” and I just feel like you two should be ashamed. People tell me it’s just a song; that I need to relax. I disagree.
And now you’re back with Chris Brown, coming out with a song called Nobody’s Business, but Rihanna, it is our business. Don’t you know that when you say little things like “me and you get it” in regard to Chris Brown, you are excluding a whole lot of people, and simultaneously explaining that it’s okay to stay in an abusive relationship as long as it makes sense to you? You are making excuses. No love that ever involves black eyes and police cars is “perfection,” and you have to know that. I know it’s hard to be a victim, but right now you are hurting more than just yourself.
You seem so honest and strong in every interview I hear from you, so why are you being like this? My heart broke for you when you when you told Oprah that you had worried about Chris after the initial beating. Like you were the only one who could help him. Rihanna, that man is too far gone. You cannot help him and it is not your responsibility to fix it.
One night, a few months ago, I was walking down a street in Washington DC with my boyfriend and a couple of our friends. We walked past a club with a line of people waiting to get in. A young woman in a blue dress walked past us down the sidewalk and we continued along, trying to figure out where we needed to go to get home. As we hesitated down the way, a man in a yellow shirt passed us, met up with the woman, leaned in to say something to her and then proceeded to hit her face with both hands before throwing her against a building. It wasn’t until he pulled her away and we heard the thud of her head hitting the stone wall as he slammed her against it again that we realized what was happening.
It took us several seconds to process the beating this girl was taking, but suddenly, without even blinking, I had dialed 911 and was describing the man to the police.
The police arrived and put the man in handcuffs and my boyfriend went to find the girl, who had wandered away. He brought her back to where we were and I reached out and pulled her toward me by the arm. She looked around confusedly before finally putting her weight on me and she wrapped her arms around my waist and buried her swollen head into my chest, tears rolling down her face and onto my own skin.
I still think about her.
“We see this kind of thing happen all the time,” the officer casually told me after the injured woman refused to press charges, “she’s not going to do anything about it. He’ll be back before you know it.”
We live in a culture where violence often gets mistaken for passion. But Rihanna, what’s wrong with being with someone who treats you well? I wanted you to be the strength that could show young women that it’s never okay to stay with or go back to a partner who hits you. I wanted you to be someone that we could look up to. I thought you could do it.
We can do better than this. We can do our best to end domestic violence. Won’t you help us?