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