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.
Photo: AP/ REUTERS