IF RIHANNA AND CHRIS BROWN GET BACK TOGETHER...

Reports are swirling that singers Rihanna and Chris Brown may be getting back together after Brown allegedly beat Rihanna to the point of hospitalization. So it's a good time to assess how our culture perceives victims of domestic violence and assesses their decisions. Remember, first Rihanna was "blamed" for the attack by media reports suggesting she was a "clingy," "jealous" girlfriend. Now Us is reporting how disappointed Rihanna's friends are in her decision to take Brown back. "She’s not listening to anyone," one "pal" supposedly told the magazine.

Indeed, it seems that Rihanna can't do anything right; either she is complicit in her own victimization or she isn't strong enough to end the relationship. That's the usual double-edged sword we present to victims of domestic violence. For another take, check out Jaclyn Friedman at Yes Means Yes. She has a good run-down of what Rihanna's decision to take Chris back doesn't mean, in terms of understanding domestic violence:

1. It doesn’t mean she is stupid. Leaving an abusive partner is hard -- really, really hard. Some studies have shown that it takes an average woman 4-7 tries before she can leave her abuser for good. ...

2. It doesn’t mean we should forgive him. ...

3. It doesn’t mean what he’s alleged to have done is any less horrible. ... There are a lot of psychological reasons that victims take their abusers back. It doesn’t mean the abuse was any kind of “no big deal.” ...

4. It doesn’t mean she has betrayed any kind of sisterhood. OK, let’s get real clear on this one. Rihanna did not sign up to be any kind of spokesmodel for dating violence. ...

5. It doesn’t mean that if he hurts her again, she deserves it. ...

Read the whole thing.

--Dana Goldstein

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