ETA: this is stirring quite a debate online about whether this is good or bad in terms of raising awareness of domestic violence and the dynamics that go on. A lot of good points have been made regarding Rihanna's lyric seeming to affirm the myth that battered women like the abuse. On the other hand, as one commenter writes:
many famous rappers, Biggie, Dr. Dre, Busta Rhymes, Mystikal, Big Pun, etc etc, have all been accused of violence against there women and down played it!. BUT As far as I know, he's the first Rapper, address it from a personal point of view, openly admit He hit his woman, and express SHAME and REMORSE for hitting a woman in a song. That's a big freekin deal in hip hop!!! He never said anything like that in Kim when he addressed it! Quite the opposite! No rapper has ever had the balls to say this - --"but when its bad, its awful, I feel so Ashamed, I snap whose that dude? I don’t even know his name. I laid hands on her, I’ll never stoop so low again. I guess I don't know my own strength" ---- Because it will be seen as weakness by other Rappers
One thing that I notice as I watch the video and, yes, am triggered by some of the scenes is that it accurately depicts the lows and the highs of the relationship. What you have are two people with extremely low self esteem, having felt unloved for most of their lives, finding that the intensity of attention, both good and bad, they get from each other makes them feel like they matter, like they affect someone. The dramatic "I can't live without you!" moments seem to validate their existence. That someone would want to kill them if they leave also, in a horrible way, makes them feel important, validated, wanted, loved. In another lyric Eminem raps that "It's so insane cause when it's going good, it's going great
I'm Superman with the wind at his back, she's Lois Lane." For people coming from dysfunctional homes, these highs may be the best they've ever felt, and they convince themselves they can overcome the low points, the violence, the fighting, if they just try harder.
It takes a lot of work in recovery, a lot of counseling, to get past this dynamic and have a healthy relationship, and it's work that must be done by both parties. This is not at all to say that women some how deserved their abuse. But if they are going to have a positive relationship, free of abuse, women (or abused men) must heal their own psyche and repair their self esteem. Then the drama of the abusive man, that initial rush of intense attention before the abuse, the instant relationship, the "I've never known anyone like you before! I feel like we've known each other all our lives" type of guy won't seem attractive--he'll seem alarming and creepy. The healthy guy, the one who gets to really know you, slowly, and considers carefully whether this is working--that's the guy you'll gravitate to instead.