It's been a bit impossible to avoid the developments in the relationship between pop stars Rihanna and Chris Brown. He is accused of assaulting her,
and police photos of her bruised face were shown on television and elsewhere. The incident happened on the night before the Grammys, resulting in very public cancellations of both their appearances that night. A hearing is scheduled today in Los Angeles.
In the last few days, however, has come information about the two possibly being back together again, or that he has apologized, or that she is wavering on pressing charges. No one but the two of them knows what has really happened and what their status is as a couple, and because they each live in the limelight, they're not likely to get a lot of privacy regardless of whether they split or work things out.
The story, however, is not new. Abusers and victims reconcile all the time, even in troubled relationships that are doomed to repeat the same cycle again and again. Breaking away from a relationship in which emotional or physical abuse is a factor is more difficult than it would seem from the outside.
In an interview with CNN,Steven Stosny, a counselor and founder of CompassionPower, an anger and violence management program, talks about the cycle:
'Abuse victims will "leave out of either fear, anger or resentment," he said. "But then, after the fear, anger or resentment begins to subside, they feel guilt, shame, anxiety, and that takes them back."
'After a violent incident, there is often a "honeymoon period" during which the abuser may apologize profusely, give the victim gifts and persuade the victim to stay, experts say. But when that period is over, the abuser may once again become violent."
The difference with this case, of course, is its high profile. Rihanna, in that one night's incident, became part of the large group of women who have experienced violence at the hands of someone they trusted. They will no doubt be watching how the case unfolds, and perhaps even taking strength -- or vulnerability -- from her actions. They know, better than anyone, that the road from here is a difficult one.
Here's CNN's story:
Often, women in an abusive relationship don't leave because they don't feel they have the ability to support themselves, to find a safe place to live, or to even know where to start. If there are children involved, it is an even tougher situation. Some women can't find the information they need, because their access to the outside world is controlled by their partner. Or they leave only to return, perhaps thinking that they don't deserve any better.
Here's an article from the Wellesly Centers for Women on how complicated the stay-or-leave decision can be:
If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship and needs help, there are resources available:
National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799- SAFE (crisis hotline, local referrals, and information). Their web site is www.ndvh.org.
Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network (RAINN): 1-800-656-HOPE (crisis hotline, local referrals, and information). Their web site is www.rainn.org.
The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) offers a list of state coalitions against domestic violence at www.ncadv.org/resources/state.htm.
Have you been in an emotionally or physically abusive relationship? Do you have words of encouragement or advice for others who are?
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