None of us can know exactly what happened between Halle Berry’s fiance Olivier Martinez and ex Gabriel Aubry last week on Thanksgiving. We know there was a physical altercation, Aubry was arrested on misdemeanor battery charges and that an array of protective orders from both parties have been flying all around. Martinez and Aubry were fighting, though, so why are so many people focusing their attentions on Berry’s “bad taste” in men?
Many tweets, blog posts and articles, like “Halle Berry still has terrible taste in men” on Salon, are wondering why Berry is “a woman with one of the most consistently tumultuous personal lives of any public figure in recent memory.” Yes, the actress has had a long history with dating people who have been abusive, but implying that this is somehow her fault is absurd–I don’t think anybody really starts off dating somebody with, “Hey, do you plan on hitting me or anyone else throughout the course of this relationship?” To assume that she is in any way responsible for the behavior of these men, short of secretly giving them aggression-inducing drugs, is ridiculous.
I fully believe that protecting your child should be the number one priority to a parent, so I can understand questioning why she and her daughter, who did not witness the fight, are continuing to live with Martinez. That said, I know plenty of people whose parents have gotten into some form of fight during their lives that they did not witness nor did it affect them negatively (though I am obviously not saying violence is ever okay). It is, however, very understandable that she’ll be seeking a permanent restraining order against Aubry considering he’s been accused of pushing his daughter’s nanny while she held the girl.
Regardless, it’s not Berry’s responsibility–nor even in her power–to control what the two men have done or will do, and the fact that that’s a focus of the publicity surrounding this ordeal is partially removing the blame from the fighters themselves. As E! writer Leslie Gornstein’s very sensible article points out, “Why are we focusing on Berry’s choices, and not on the behavior of the men themselves?”
She also quotes Kit Gruelle of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, who notes: “The thing that concerns me is that we’re focusing on what the victim does and does not do, and not the men, and what they are doing or not doing. It’s useful to turn the coin over and say, ‘Why is it that men express themselves through violence and intimidation?'”
Gruelle is absolutely right about an all-to-common problem: asking ourselves what the victims should be doing as opposed to why the victimizers and violent parties have committed such actions.