Why do we pity the abuser – The Rihanna Interview with Oprah

On Sunday August 19th, I watched Oprah’s interview with the R&B singer Rihanna.  I usually don’t stay awake this late, but last night I made a point to do so because I was intrigued by what Rihanna would say when asked about the abuse she suffered at the hands of Chris Brown.  In case you missed it, the gist of what she said was that in one night she felt like she had lost her best friend and that even though she was “hurt and betrayed” (he actually beat her up so badly that she was barely recognizable and he even bit her face) she felt bad for him that night and was more concerned with how he felt than herself.

Now, my first reaction to this interview was not a good one.  I was actually screaming from the couch and wanted to jump through the screen, shake Rihanna, and beg her to wake up and smell the coffee.  Then, I decided to give her a break when I realized that there was a point in time (granted it didn’t take me as long as it might take her to learn this tough lesson) when I was just like her.  After my initial desire to slap her passed, I wanted to hug her and explain to her that while her feelings are shared by many abused woman, she needs to place her concern where it needs to be  – with herself and NOT with the abuser.

I thought about this interview all day today.  The thoughts were painful as I remembered my own “abuse” at the hands of Luc.  For me, these memories are like my version of that photo of Rihanna’s face torn apart by Chris Brown.  Here are just two examples of things I endured that other woman (who weren’t going through it )would have wanted to slap me for staying over.  (Just like I wanted to slap Rihanna)

…I was four months pregnant and crawling to the bathroom to throw up during a terrible night of food poisoning.  After screaming for help for what seemed like hours, Luc came into the room, yelled at me for throwing up on his floor, threw a trash can at me, and then left for nearly two days.  When he returned and I asked him why he didn’t help me, he went into a rage and told me how insensitive I was being and that he had a headache.  Immediately, I asked him if he needed anything and began to take care of him.

…Nine months pregnant, feet swollen after an eight hour work day.  I came home to Luc who had been playing video games all day and was still in his pajamas.  He asked me to rub his feet.  After rubbing HIS feet, I asked him if he could rub my swollen feet.  Enraged, he said, “how could you even ask me that.  You know I don’t do stuff like that.  I am never going to ask you for anything because you always expect something in return!”

Today, as I continued along my own emotional roller coaster with Luc, I realized that it has taken me a long time to really even accept that I was abused.  My mom (among others) keeps telling me to go find a domestic violence support group/advocacy center to help me.  I have been fighting this idea because the abuse that I endured doesn’t seem like the typical abuse you see in the media.  I don’t have any pictures of my face with cuts and bruises.  Luc didn’t bite my and physically throw me out of a moving car.  (Like Chris Brown did to Rihanna)

The world is judging Rihanna for that interview she had with Oprah and for the choices she has made in the aftermath of her abuse.  While I have accepted that there is something terminally wrong with Luc and I shouldn’t feel bad for him, I am judged every day for the decision I made to stay with him for as long as I did.  Most people feel comfortable blaming the victim because they don’t want to even imagine that this sort of abuse could happen to them.

As I have said before, if you put a frog in boiling water – he will jump out.  If you put the frog in a pot of room temperature water and slowly bring it to a boil – you will kill the frog.

I am sure Chris Brown didn’t introduce himself to Rihanna and say, “Hey girl, I am going to beat you up one day and everyone will be talking about your bruised face for years.”  Just like Luc didn’t introduce himself to me saying, “Hey sweetie, I hope you are ready for the trauma I am going to cause.  First, I am going to treat you like a Queen for about five minutes until you are fully smitten.  Then, I am going to make you feel like trash.  Next, I will convince you to pay my bills while I continue to sit at home and think of stupid ways to make myself rich so I can continue to not work.  And the icing on the cake will be when I attack someone you love, get away with it, and then take your son on a weekly basis to torment him just as I have done to you.”

Quite possibly the saddest part of the interview was when Oprah asked Rihanna if she and Chris were still together.  Teary eyed, Rihanna explained how Chris had moved on and was dating someone new.  She then said that she was single and that every time she saw Chris it was awkward, she needed to keep from showing how she felt inside during these encounters, and that Chris was the love of her life.  So Mr. Chris came into this young girl’s life, made her fall in love with him, beat her down physically and emotionally, and then moved on to the next victim.  Sounds like a sociopath to me…what do you think?