June 30th, 2010

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Chris Brown's Tears

I can't speak for others, but as I watched Chris Brown break into tears on BET's awards show I had flashbacks to how my abuser would cry after beating me and I would end up comforting him.

When I couple that with the growing push for survivors to all "forgive" as if it's a requirement and we're stupid or selfish or hurting ourselves if we don't, I feel that I am supposed to somehow participate in forgiving Chris Brown. Well, forgiveness is not something that needs to come from me. I'm not the one he terrorized that night.

On a practical level, yes I want abusers to "recover" if by recover we mean the same thing as in alcohol or drug treatment--recover from whatever compels this ugly and damaging behavior and learn to be nonviolent.

But I don't think we're required to hold a love fest for them so they can feel like everybody forgives them and reassure them that they are good people. This is work they can do with a therapist and/or a support group, just like anyone else with a troubling compulsive behavior. If batterers don't have programs to help them change, there will just be more battered women in the future. So yes, by all means, "recover." But do so on your own time.

I also had to wonder, why wasn't BET holding this love-fest for Rihanna?

I think BET needs to do some kind of big program to benefit domestic violence survivors and educate the community. Every network ought to do their part, of course, but BET needs to reach out to the survivors who were affected as I was by this show. Let them also address how the misogynist lyrics of rap songs feed into this violence.

And let's not forget Rihanna and what she suffered. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UQSeYNhWAak
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Feel Sorry For The Poor Batterers

Inevitably someone will ask why batterers can't find redemption. That's already happened in response to my other post today.

Well, sure they can! I hope they do!

And yes, I feel sorry that they experienced some childhood trauma that may have contributed to their behavior. If they need help to heal from that, learn how to appropriately manage their feelings and communicate better in relationships so they won't be violent, I'm all for it.

I think batterers can and should change and we as a society should make sure there are classes, support groups and therapists available to assist with that--free of charge if necessary.

But, let me make myself very clear, our primary sympathy should be with the victims as is the case in any crime.

We can both have compassion for perpetrators while we hold them accountable.

When it comes to Chris Brown, yes by all means find redemption and go on with your career. But keep your tears to yourself and don't expect us to reassure you when Rihanna is still recovering from the experience. Don't put Brown on an awards show before you've celebrated her career! He doesn't (or shouldn't) need public adoration to convince him he's likable or forgiven just because he's a celebrity.

I've been shocked at how many more people supported Chris Brown than those who supported Rihanna. I shouldn't be; I've long known how most people are more comfortable blaming the victim and asking what's wrong with her rather than asking how could the perpetrator be so violent.

Gosh, I'm sorry poor Chris Brown used his fists to nearly destroy his career and how he used his hands to choke Rihanna as he bashed her head into the car door until she lost consciousness. My heart bleeds for him. We should all line up to comfort him now, even though she'll never get those moments completely out of her head or forget how vulnerable she is. But Chris Brown witnessed violence as a child so we should feel even more sorry for him.

Doesn't anyone see the imbalance here?

I have to wonder, if this assault wasn't with his then-girlfriend in the semi-private space of a car, but instead he assaulted a woman AT the Grammy Awards that night in the same manner, someone he was not in a relationship with, would BET be ready this soon to give him such a spotlight? Wouldn't he, in fact, be in jail even now?
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Open Letter To My Grandsons

Dear Grandsons,

I don’t know if I ever told you this, but I have spent the last 25 years writing about husbands hitting their wives (or wives who hit their husbands) and trying to help prevent other people from doing that or from staying in a marriage while it’s being done to them.

So it made me sad to hear that you both were talking about someday hitting a future wife.

Why do you think it was important to me to take you home with me so your mom could come and get you?

I wanted you to be safe in your own home, as everyone should be.

I, personally, don’t even believe in spanking. I was spanked as a child and I believe it did nothing positive and actually made me fear my mom, grandma and aunt. I began to tell lies to avoid the violent spankings I got.

When I got married to your mom’s dad (not the Grandpa you know, who is my second husband) I was hit many, many times by him. He was very violent. Sometimes I was thrown to the floor. I had bruises and began to fear each time I heard him at the door, returning home.

This is not how you want your wife to feel about you some day!

He kept saying he would stop. Each time was supposed to be the last and I tried to believe him.

But he kept hurting me over stupid disagreements that normally, with your Grandpa Dave, would amount to nothing, minor things that most people would simply talk about until they found a solution.

I started out loving your first Grandpa, Mike, with all my heart. It was my first romance. I was very young—too young, really.

But if you hit your wife—remember this—she will love you a little less with each blow. Finally, all of her love will be gone, replaced with hate and bitterness, and she will leave. That’s how it was with me and why I am no longer married to the man I thought I would spend my whole life with.

Again, when you fall in love and get married, this is not what you want! You want your wife to love you all the days of your long, long lives together. You want her to be glad to hear your foot on the doorstep, happy to see your smiling face. You want her to treat you well and you must treat her the same way. That is the way to be happy in a marriage. That is what I have with your Grandpa Dave, who would never think about raising his hand to me. Think about Grandpa—has he ever once spanked you or made you feel afraid? No? That’s how it’s supposed to be. Home is where you feel safe and know you are loved, not where you live in fear.

As you know all too well, children don’t feel safe in a home where one adult is hitting the other, even if no one is hitting them. Children should never have to see that.

If you ever feel tempted to hit others, I hope you will get some help. There are therapists, support groups and other help for anyone who needs to learn how to handle anger without hitting people.

I hope you will grow up to be kind men who will always be a refuge for women and children. I hope you will learn how to solve differences with calm words rather than insults or fists. I hope you know that marriages don’t work when someone is being treated disrespectfully. Love dies when it is not nourished with kindness and respect.

I hope you will both have very happy, loving marriages, like I do now.

All my love,

Grandma