Men who are violent towards women, hear this loud and clear: it is never the victim’s fault. The blame lies with you, your misogyny and your irremissible inability to control your anger. This is a message we are passionate about delivering, so when we heard that Chris Brown has been attempting to excuse himself for punching Rihanna by blaming it on her, our blood began boiling.
The Bajan singer was photographed looking bruised and bloodied after her ex-boyfriend attacked her in his car during an argument in 2009. She was taken to hospital for her injuries. He pleaded guilty to felony assault and was sentenced to five years probation and a community service order.
Now, in new documentary Chris Brown: Welcome To My Life (we’ll stay out of it, thanks), Brown has said that although he “felt like a f**king monster” after the incident, he only “really hit her” after she “tried to kick him”.
Rihanna was angry and upset after Brown admitted cheating on her with a former employee. She had spotted the woman at a party the pair were at before finding a message from her on his phone, leading to them “arguing and arguing and arguing” on the way home. Here is what he recalls from the night – be warned that it makes for chilling reading:
“I remember she tried to kick me, just like her beating s**t, but then I really hit her. With a closed fist, like I punched her and it busted her lip, and when I saw it I was in shock, I was like, ‘F**k, why did I hit her like that?
“So from there she’s spitting blood in my face, it raised me even more. It’s a real fight in the car and we’re driving in the street.
“She grabbed my nuts and when she did that I bit her arm while I’m still trying to drive. I’m just trying to resolve the situation, I’m not trying to fight. [But she] takes the keys out of the car and fakes it like she throws them out of the window.
“I get out the car and I’m looking for the keys and somebody yelled and she yells out her door, ‘Help, he’s trying to kill me’.
“She hated me…after that, I tried everything. She didn’t care, she just didn’t trust me after that. From there, it just went downhill because it would be fights, it would be verbal fights, physical fights as well. Mutual sides, it is the first time I get to say anything.
“I look back at that picture and I’m like, ‘That’s not me, bro’. I hate it to this day. That’s going to haunt me forever.”
Following the attack, Rihanna alleged that Brown had threatened to kill her and branded their relationship “dangerous”. They since reconciled and briefly got back together, but Rihanna is now dating billionaire businessman Hassan Jameel.
Domestic abuse charities have been deeply concerned by Brown’s latest account of the attack, with Sandra Horley, CEO of Refuge, telling Harper’s Bazaar UK that “domestic violence does not ‘take two’”.
“No woman can make a man hit her; violence is a choice he makes and he alone is responsible for it,” she said. “Blaming the victim is another way perpetrators maintain control over their victims – it shifts the responsibility to the woman. Manipulating her into thinking she is responsible is a ploy abusers use to deflect from their violent and controlling behaviour.”
Katie Ghose, CEO of Women’s Aid, echoed Horley, describing Brown’s words as “victim blaming”.
“Brown is sending out a very dangerous message to both survivors and abusers by relieving himself of responsibility for his actions by blaming Rihanna for provoking him,” she said. “Women are frequently discouraged from coming forward for fear of being blamed for the abuse. Nearly half of domestic abuse survivors responding to a HMIC online survey had never reported the abuse to the police.”
Representatives for Chris Brown are yet to respond to our request for comment regarding accusations of victim blaming.
It is important to remember that domestic abuse can take many forms and is not always physical. It can include controlling behaviour, constant criticism and humiliation, harassment, threats, damaging your possessions, blaming you for bad moods and unfairly accusing you of flirting with others. See the Refuge page on warning signs for more examples.
Readers who are concerned about their own safety or that of a loved one can ring the National Domestic Violence freephone helpline on 0808 2000 247.