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Can Abusers Change?

Many people have been upset by the recent “confirmation” of Rihanna and Chris Brown being a couple again. You will remember that in February 2009 their relationship ended after Chris physically assaulted Rihanna as they were coming from the Grammy awards. Since then Chris has been labelled an abuser, but despite this Rihanna has returned to him.

In her interview with Oprah, Rihanna expressed her dissatisfaction with people labelling Chris an abuser. She especially disputed the fact that people called him a monster without posing the question of where Chris’ violent behaviour came from. Looking back at it now, it has me thinking, could a look into abusive men’s backgrounds provide solutions to rehabilitating them?

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My parents’ relationship ended in late 2000 after my father beat my mother to a pulp for the umpteenth time. It was always strange for people to hear the stories and see the bruises on my mother because my father is one of the friendliest and most loving men. The truth is, we look at the demeanour of a person and immediately exempt them from being capable of violence. What could have been the source of this violent behaviour?

I look at men like Chris and my father and I see some patterns. They were both raised by single mothers and abusive stepfathers were present in the upbringing of both. The truth is, we emulate what we know. Maybe they didn’t know how else to react. And in most cases the assault is an impulsive reaction to the situation. This of course, doesn’t make it any less wrong.

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Before we completely chastise abusive men, let us look at their backgrounds and upbringing. The relationships that their fathers had with their mothers ultimately has an influence on how they will approach their own relationships. For me the negative interaction between my parents has had a positive influence in the sense that I know the pain of witnessing abuse to the extent that I would never even consider violence against anyone. Still, it doesn’t make the abuse any less wrong.

Today Chris and Rihanna are back together and they seem even happier than before. My father remarried and attended counselling with his wife, who has become one of my mother’s good friends. With this said I think it is completely possible for an abuser to be rehabilitated. Sitting in an abusive relationship and hoping that the abuser will change is dangerous and reckless. If the victim is adamant on making it work, the cooperation of the abuser needs to be reeled in. This of course can’t be an easy task, but could be beneficial towards rehabilitating an abuser.

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Do you think abusers can change? What abuse stories do you have?

Article written by:

Richmond Sajini is a musician and media entrepreneur in the public relations, television, radio and retail spaces in South Africa. He studied Public Relations and Communication at the University of Johannesburg and has worked on brands such as Coca Cola, Tsogo Sun, Heineken as well as the South African National Roads Agency. He has been told to shut up many times by people who don’t understand that he is in love with the sound of his own voice. For this reason he decided to start his own blog where he would share his thoughts and experiences without inhibition. Visit his blog, www.randomramblings.co.za and follow him on Twitter @richmondsajini.

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  1. ST

    This is a very difficult question to answer. Don’t get me wrong, I am in no way promoting abuse but when for an example I get mad at a friend or sister & clap them – is it still classified as abuse?
    I’ve been with my husband for 12 years & he only clapped me once 7 years & that was when he found me drinking after I told him I was pregnant – I’m not justifying his actions but can I really call him abusive?

    • ST

      i meant 7 year ago

    • Richmond_S

      Despite that his intentions were good, it is still abuse. He should have sat you down and spoken to you about it rather than laying his hands on you. I hope you reached a place where you could talk about it to avoid it ever happening again. Thanks for engaging! :-)

      • ST

        we’re more than fine now – see before that day i had already told him if he were to lay his hands on me i would leave him – so after the clap i broke it off with him even though inside i was never really angry with him & i knew i would take him back.

        • Richmond_S

          I’m glad you made the decision to move out of that space. No one should ever have to face that.
          Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device

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