… Perhaps the only good that will come from the Rihanna/Brown publicity is destruction of our culture’s misconception that abusers and their victims can only be universally poor, uneducated and powerless.
Our culture encourages women to nurture men, making it predictable that many experience a seductive empathy for abusive men, as well as the misguided hope that love can obliterate an ugly past.
In my case, it took four years, myriad terrifying attacks, and the intervention of the police and family court before I understood how little I could help my ex get over his abusive childhood.
I certainly felt alone during my abusive relationship, but unfortunately I was in good company. The U.S. Department of Justice estimates that between 1 million and 3 million women in America are physically abused by their husband or boyfriend each year.
Every day, on average, three women are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends. At some point in our lives, 25 percent of American women will report being physically abused or raped by intimate partners, according to the National Violence Against Women Survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
However, these statistics, grim as they are, fail to highlight the root of the abuse cycle. A national survey showed that 50 percent of men who frequently assault their wives also frequently abuse their children.
Family violence is a criminal act; perpetrators, while often former victims themselves, need to accept culpability. Until we can prevent children from witnessing and becoming victims of abuse, the cycle will repeat itself: there will be many more Chris Browns and “alleged victims” in our headlines and in our homes.