Rihanna Is Moving Past Abuse — And That’s Not For Us To Judge
3:45 pm, April 4th | by Laura Donovan
Three years ago, the Barbadian singer made headlines when then-boyfriend Chris Brown beat her until she was visibly injured. Rihanna ended the relationship and got a restraining order, but through no choice of her own, was the face of domestic violence and abusive relationships for a long time. In 2009, Rihanna explained to ABC News’s Diane Sawyer that she had briefly gone back to Brown, but realized that her “selfish decision for love could result into some young girl getting killed, [and she] could not be easy for that part…[or] be held responsible for that.” To set a positive example for women everywhere and prevent deaths, she vowed to stay away from her violent ex. And so she did.
But to the confusion of many, Rihanna wiped her hands clean of the traumatic altercation and moved past it. She could have carried anger and fear in her heart for the rest of her life and no one would have said anything about it. In February, the Internet flipped out at the news of Rihanna’s collaboration with Brown on her catchy tune, “Birthday Cake.” Girls creator Lena Dunham, who is slowly but surely becoming the voice of our generation (no matter what anyone says!), tweeted of the matter, “Rihanna and Chris Brown’s new duets make me want to go hide under Gloria Steinem’s bed for 72 hours.” Fans and commentators alike were outraged. BuzzFeed‘s Amy Odell published a piece Wednesday titled, “Rihanna, Please Don’t Use Chris Brown To ‘Rebel.’” Daily Beast reporter Allison Samuels piped in that “the young stars seemed, and still appear, completely unaware of the conflicting and damaging message theyre sending their young fans and of the slippery slope they both stand upon. Could they be oblivious to the two that came before them?”
Sure it told the world that Rihanna, who had softened her restraining order against Brown a year earlier so as not to create conflicts at awards shows, is now willing to work with her abusive ex, but the move does not insinuate that she suddenly wants to date him again. Rihanna’s connection to him is becoming more sensationalized by the day, as the New York Post reported Wednesday that the “SOS” popstar’s management team is advising her to avoid Brown. Though they appear to dislike Rihanna singing with Brown and tweeting about his new flame, the strong-willed young performer is doing what she’d like. A source told the Post:
“Her management banned her from reuniting with Chris, but she said she’ll do whatever the hell she wants to. Rihanna is rebelling. She says they have been working her too hard and she wants some time to herself. They fear she’ll secretly record an album with Brown, just to defy them.”
This seems like more of a general tiff with bosses than an unstoppable need to be around Brown, but in terms of her former beau, Rihanna has a right to forgive and work with him if she so desires. If you’ve ever held a grudge for a substantial amount of time, you’re aware that it poisons you, and while it’s true that we don’t have to forgive Brown, who still carries himself like a total creepy creep and could very well be a loose cannon, Rihanna should be able to make decisions without being blasted by the media for setting a terrible example and being anything other than the textbook role model for victims of abuse. This wasn’t a fate she wanted for herself, it was thrust upon her when misfortune struck and she realized how terrible her relationship really was.
As she said in the Sawyer interview, she isn’t a perfect person, as nobody is at age 24. She will err again, and perhaps later on down the road she’ll regret working with Brown post-2009, but either way, her choices should be of no concern to the public. She’s not our puppet or anti-abuse spokesperson, so while we personally would never want to associate with Brown again after such a horrible encounter, we don’t have the authority to criticize her personal or professional moves.
A family member once told me that staying upset with someone who wronged me would be the equivalent of drinking poison and assuming my enemy would be the one to suffer. Rihanna isn’t sipping bitterness juice or clinging to a grudge, but living her life and working tirelessly. She has refused to let this incident define her as a woman or entertainer, yet she’s unable to get away from what happened thanks to the media’s insistence on butting in on her life. Allow her to fully liberate herself of this horrendous past event by letting her make her own choices free of backlash and criticism.