Friday, March 13, 2009

Just Will Not Stop Talking About It!

I thought my last article on the subject would the the last for a while until I couldn't sleep and was watching Larry King. He was interviewing Robin Givens about the whole Rihanna domestic abuse situation with Chris Brown. Seeing Robin sitting there, she and I are about the same age, reminded me of the very painful viewing of her interview with Mike Tyson and Barbara Walters. I could tell she was hurting then but there were no words. Today is different and women are speaking out, the result of being silent is too great. Nicole Brown Simpson lost her life because her ex-husband, now convicted of another crime, beat her senseless for the entirety of their marriage but because he was a celebrity, the sympathy was on him and not the victim. This must end and I will not stop talking about it.

I also thought I was finished until I read an excerpt of Dr. Robin Smith's book, "Lies at the Altar: The Secret of Great Marriages" and her acknowledgment of the debilitating affect of abuse in a marriage. While her book was not spiritual, she also touched on the fact that a lot of abused (name the type, it doesn't matter, it is all abuse) sit painfully silent in church (pick a denomination or a temple or a mosque, they are everywhere) because women are taught to submit to the man no matter what.

This topic is worth talking about by women and men.

Reprinted from Political Intersection Blog because it is just that important and I will not stop talking about it!

Uncategorized by Sophia Nelson
Before It’s Too Late for Rihanna (Reprinted from
March 12, 2009
Tags: Chris Brown, domestic violence, Mike Tyson, Oprah, Patricia Ann Simmons-Kelly, Rihanna, Robin Givens, Sophia Nelson

In the past few weeks, like many Americans, I have had to face the harsh reality of how tragic domestic violence can be in the lives of women. It isn’t just that I have two small nieces who look up to Rihanna and listen to her music. This is now very personal for me because last week I buried a colleague and sister friend, Patricia Ann Simmons-Kelly [1], who was shot by her husband while she was at church in Silver Spring, Md.

I am having a hard time shaking the image of Pat in her casket. The sad thing for the many friends and family members who spoke at her funeral was that they had no idea that her life was in any danger. Ladies at her church and women in iask, Inc. [2], a group I founded, had no idea that behind Pat’s friendly smile, big heart and warm demeanor was a woman living with the fear and stress of a broken marriage. She had apparently asked her husband to leave their home at about the time she lost her job to a mass layoff at the law firm where she worked. One week later, she was dead.

How did it get this far? Was it financial strain from the layoff? Was it the fact that she had asked him to move out? We may never know.

What we do know is that events like this don’t happen overnight. Her husband was clearly in severe emotional distress, and he had murdered her in his mind long before he actually pulled the trigger. The sad thing is that this is all too common.

According to the Domestic Violence Resource Center, black women are subject to a higher incidence of domestic violence than white women. Hispanic women are less likely to be victimized than non-Hispanic women in every age group. Even more troubling is that 1 in 4 women will experience domestic violence in their lifetime, and four women die each day at the hands of a male partner or spouse in America.

Given this backdrop, I cringe now when I think back on Robin Givens’ explanation as to why she stayed with Tyson [3] after her infamous 1988 appearance on The Barbara Walters Show.

“With Michael, I felt like I had a purpose. I really felt like I had to protect him and love him and convince him that the world can be an OK place—I wanted to love all of his hurts and all of his pain away,” she told Oprah in 2004 [4].

Sadly, I suspect that years from now we may see an older, wiser Rihanna telling woeful tales about how she lacked self-esteem and how she wanted to save the bad-boy Chris Brown from his past as an abused child who also witnessed his stepfather beat his mother. That is, if she lives to become an older, wiser woman.

According to the police affidavit, Brown allegedly choked Rihanna until she almost lost consciousness. A recent column by Barbara Brotman in the Chicago Tribune [5] states that men who choke women are likely to kill their victim at some point, and “it is a harbinger of potential murder.” Having just lost a 52-year-old friend (with a now orphaned 17-year-old daughter), I hope that Rihanna will heed Oprah’s wise counsel: “If he hit you once, he will hit you again.”

Yes, Chris Brown is a victim, too, and he needs help. But it can’t come from Rihanna. He needs professional help. All she can do is wish him well. But she needs to let him go before it’s too late.

Sophia A. Nelson is a regular contributor to The Root.
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