When a man beats a woman

By PAT WATSON

The recent assault on photogenic Barbadian pop singer, Rihanna, allegedly by her fresh-faced boyfriend, Chris Brown, is a hot gossip item everywhere you turn. But the disturbing story of the two young, high-profile entertainers, who are romantically involved, is only one of countless millions of such acts of violence perpetrated by one supposedly loving companion or family member upon the other.

We consider famous and talented persons to be larger than life so we commonly assign god-like qualities to them. That could explain why this type of clearly brutal but, sadly, everyday assault continues to sustain such an intense level of interest more than a month after the alleged incident on the night of this year’s Grammy awards presentation. Someone who seems so special is now facing the same crisis of violence that untold nameless women and men experience each day, some even as you read this.

Added to the disturbing nature of the assault, Rihanna has reportedly reunited with her alleged assaulter.

A FREDA Centre for Research on Violence against Women and Children fact: “Almost 75 per cent of women who leave or stay apart eventually return home to their partners: for the sake of the children (31 per cent); to give the relationship another chance (24 per cent); when their partner promises to change (17 per cent); because of a lack of money or housing (9 per cent).”

On the flipside, another day in the lives of countless couples who are co-existing in the private hell of a similar kind of violence goes unnoticed or undetected by the world at large, or even their next-door neighbours. That is, until one of them kills the other – the killer most often being the male partner.

One woman from the Caribbean tells a horrendous story that begins with her teeth. She says that almost all her teeth have been knocked out over a lengthy period of time by the man with whom she lived, and who fathered her five children, all born here. They are no longer together, but while they were, he would lock her in their home, imprisoning her every day as he left to go to work. He would lock her in and take the key. She endured this for years before finding the strength to escape that life. She sought the help of a support agency. No longer a victim, but a survivor, she reflects on her abuser with pity for him.

Statistics Canada fact: “Most multiple-victim homicides and murder-suicides were family-related, and the vast majority of accused persons in these types of incidents were male.”

A woman in her mid 20s whose marriage is failing is discovered by her husband to be having an adulterous relationship. She becomes the target of repeated blows to her head. Without telling anyone, she quietly plans her escape and shortly thereafter leaves the marriage. Fearing the worst, she moves to another town.

FREDA Centre fact: “…a large majority of wife killings are precipitated by: a man accusing his partner of sexual infidelity; by her decision to terminate the relationship; and/or by his desire to control her.”

A hairdresser whose childhood was spent in an abusive home becomes involved with a man struggling with alcohol addiction. He assaults her whenever he drinks. Eventually, she leaves.

FREDA Centre fact: “Women married to or living with heavy drinkers, are five times more likely to be assaulted by their partners than are women who live with non-drinkers.”

We can be thankful that none of these survivors made the news because, given those circumstances, such stories become news items as a result of the woman being killed by her abuser.

If one good thing could come out of the very public exposure of Rihanna having been beaten up, battered and bruised so badly it would be to get both those who abuse and those who are being abused to seek help to confront and repair the dynamics that lead to a relationship of violence.

To the abused person: Your love won’t fix the person abusing you but you can get help for yourself at the Assaulted Women’s Helpline (416-863-0511).

To the person who abuses: You must know that trying to control another person’s life through violence is unhealthy and, moreover, criminal behaviour. One place to start to get the necessary help to change this behaviour is Counterpoint Counselling and Educational Cooperative (416-920-0268).

On a personal note…

Would those self-involved persons filling up the TTC subway, bus and streetcar entry/exit doors but with no intention of getting off at the next stop please stand out of the way. Thank you!

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