Olympic Gold Medalist Hope Solo Pulls A Rihanna, Forgives Her Abusive Boyfriend Then Marries Him


People often say that you can’t judge a relationship between two people as an outsider. No one really knows exactly how those people are when they’re together, the precise reason behind arguments, and of course the good ol’ fashioned “there’s two sides to every story.” Yes, this is true. But when one party shows the signs of abuse and is, at some point, so concerned for their well-being that they call the cops on someone whom they’re supposed to trust because a reprehensible line has been crossed, even as an outsider you have to give a damn.

As we’ve seen with Rihanna, some women forgive the men who abuse them. In her case, she has forgiven Chris Brown over and over, and not just on personal and emotional levels, but even professionally by allowing him to share that part of her life, too. Despite what Brown did to her, his severe lack of remorse for what he did (which he made oh-so clear by getting that fucking tattoo on his neck), and his consistent overall cocky douchiness, Rihanna has all but welcomed him back into her world with open arms. She loves him, and she doesn’t deny this; she forgives him, as her actions have proven.

We could turn a blind eye to the situation and hope that Rihanna will come to her senses; we can even dismiss it as it not being our problem and she’s a big girl who can make her own decisions, but the truth is: WHEN A MAN ASSAULTS A WOMAN, IT’S EVERYONE’S PROBLEM. You don’t get to turn a blind eye to that.

We now have Olympic gold medalist Hope Solo who, just one day after her husband-to-be Jerramy Stevens was arrested on suspicion of domestic violence against her, decided to marry him after all. This is not the first time that Stevens has found himself in trouble; he has several DUIs in his past and even one alleged sexual assault arrest in 2000. But Stevens’ past aside and the incident last Monday didn’t prevent Solo from marrying her boyfriend of only two months. The following Tuesday night, she walked down the aisle to greet him.

While it is not technically a celebrity’s obligation to set some sort of moral bar — as so few actually do — is it their responsibility to take into consideration how their young fans, who see them as role models, may interpret these decisions to go back into such an abusive situation? No one is saying it’s easy to walk away, but still we can’t help but all collectively scream out ”why?!” We can’t fault them at all, but we can still wonder the effect it will have on other women who are watching and might find themselves in a similar relationship.

As a culture, we want to believe that these incidents won’t happen again. Whether it be Rihanna, Solo or someone else you know who is currently in an abusive relationship, there is the hope that all that can be in the past. But historically, there is no such thing as “one time” when it comes to abuse, and more often than not, it ultimately has a tragic ending. This fact makes these women statistics before the talented artist and athlete they are; the focus on them has shifted because of the decisions they’ve made. It’s now hard to separate their personal problems from their professional careers. And while that’s not any way anyone wants to be remembered, if that’s what we as a society need to bring attention to domestic violence, then maybe that’s just how it will have to be.



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    • Topf

      Stuff like this happens because the emotional harm that the abuser causes on the victim is so deep that the victim thinks that the abuser is the only person (s)he has. It’s difficult to rationalize things enough to conclude that one of your contradicting feelings trumps the other one. It’s way preferable, in the confusion of the situation, to stay ambivalent and believe the abuser’s intentions to get better. And this is only an outside perspective. When you’re there, it’s so difficult to make sense out of anything.You dont even notice you’re in a conflict. Everything is too overwhelming. It sucks for everyone on the outside and it does send the wrong message but the burden of responsibility cannot be placed on the victim. They’re the very last able to respond to something like an expectation of being a role model. Chris Brown and the other dude should ask themselves about THEIR role model duties. Not Rihanna or any other victim.

      • M

        Yes, thank you Topf! I am so sick of this victim blaming bullshit.

        Ms. Chatel, look up battered person syndrome. It’s a psychological disorder, you can’t just shrug it off. You remind me of the people who told me to “smile and be happy” to fix my severe depression. Suffice to say, it didn’t help.

        All this whining about how Rihanna and every other abuse victim should just leave ignores every issue surrounding abuse and lays the blame solely on them. Why aren’t you discussing Rihanna’s father saying he liked Brown and wanted them to get back together? Their relationship does sound very healthy either.

        Why do you think public figures have to be perfect anyways? Most women, and men, go back to their abusers multiple times. Rihanna survived the abuse and continued her life. It’s absurd to think that if she just left once and for all abuse victims would start looking at her as a role model.

      • Amanda Chatel

        Dearest M:

        I, too, suffer from severe depression and have been in an abusive relationship (both topics I’ve written about for The Gloss and other sites.) I was playing devil’s advocate for the sake of starting a conversation on the matter. I was not victim blaming as I’ve been a victim myself. My questioning/suggestions in the post above were focusing on how young fans might interpret Rihanna and Hope’s ability to accept and stick around for a few more rounds. This topic was a concern for me in regards to how my younger family members would view my decisions during that period in my life.

        I’m glad it sparked something in you enough to comment, and so passionately so. But the fact is so many people look up to celebrities and take notes from everything they do — all the way from trivial shit like how they dress to more important stuff like domestic abuse. Do you know how many young girls who, during the Grammys last year, actually tweeted such horrific things like “I’d let Chris Brown beat me up any day”: http://www.buzzfeed.com/mjs538/horrible-reactions-to-chris-brown-at-the-grammys

        That is indeed a concern and a disgusting problem, and I can’t help but wonder if a bit of this is because Rihanna continues to have contact with him. Like I said, having been there, I would never victim blame, but at the same time I couldn’t help but worry that my 15-year-old second cousin who looks up to me (for some crazy reason!) would think that what I was going through was acceptable behavior by the man in my life at the time.

        My apologies for the rant, M! I just wanted to clarify exactly my intention with this piece. You make amazing points, (I also get that fucking “smile and be happy” bullshit in regards to my depression and have since learned to tell those people off) so I just wanted to be clear on whose side I’m on.

      • Breezy

        Ughh I just wrote a really long, awesome reply and my Internet crashed. The short version is this:
        1. Chatel, thank you for clarifying but people who are familiar with you already knew this.
        2. It’s hard to be a victim. There’s almost no winning. Jen Dunn has a good book about it called “Judging Victims.”
        3. Ideally, Rihanna would get to have these experiences in private and her consequences would be her own. But she doesn’t and they aren’t. She is a celebrity and her decisions affect people.
        4. I hope that when I am a parent I am on top of this shit and making sure my kids know what a complex situation this is, and that nothing is as simple as “Rihanna and Chris Brown are friends now so it’s not a big deal if a guy beats up his girlfriend.”
        5. I hope it’s terribly unlikely, but there is a chance that some girl somewhere is thinking exactly that, and for that reason we have to keep talking about this. Not because Rihanna’s business is our business, or because I have any right to tell her how to live her life. But because more discussion can’t hurt our chances of helping people who are struggling with an abusive relationship.
        6. It’s hard not to be frustrated when people return to bad situations, but above all let’s try to be encouraging. Actually, I’m all about encouragement over belittling on just about any occasion, including in the comments section :)

      • Amanda Chatel

        Thank you, Breezy! And yeah, sometimes we get these readers/commenters who don’t know these things about me (THE HORRORS BECAUSE I’M SO FANCY IMPORTANT!) In fact, that statement right there will get me flack, but I know you’ll get my tone and intention.

        Also, thank you so much for actually understanding the point of the post… you’re awesome.