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Deborah King Headshot

Rihanna - Just say NO to abuse!

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The hot young R&B stars - 20-year-old Rihanna and her 19-year-old boyfriend of the past year Chris Brown - had been scheduled to appear at the Grammys when Brown's wayward fists got in the way. Rihanna was taken to the hospital with a busted lip, swollen black eye, bloodied nose, and contusions on her forehead and both sides of her head.

The fight supposedly started when Brown received a text message from another girl wanting to hook up with him. Pulled over to the side of the road in the Hancock Park neighborhood in Los Angeles, Rihanna tossed the keys to the rented Lamborghini out the window, and Brown started wailing on her. Someone heard Rihanna's screams and called 911. By the time the police arrived, Brown was no longer on the scene, and Rihanna, who purportedly had lost consciousness for a bit, named him as her assailant. The police also photographed the serious swelling and bruises on her face and arm, so there is physical evidence of the assault.

It's what happens next that is so important for the millions of young Rihanna fans (10 million tracks of hers were digitally downloaded in 2008), and for Chris Brown's as well.
While Brown turned himself into police, who booked him on suspicion of making criminal threats and then released him after he posted $50,000 bail, there are some reports that say Rihanna does not want Chris Brown to be criminally punished and is no longer assisting investigators in the criminal case against him.

I'm hoping that this best-selling artist doesn't give in to the pressures of patriarchy to forgive him, which would be the typical abused woman syndrome. It's undoubtedly what Chris saw his mother do when his stepfather would beat her; he grew up with domestic violence. Did his mother also forgive Chris when guests alerted security at a Miami hotel in 2007 when he was fighting with her, breaking dishes and screaming at her?

Both Chris and Rihanna are scheduled to appear on the red carpet today for the NAACP Image Awards, both nominated as outstanding recording artists. It will be very disappointing, and very disturbing, if they make nice and show up together. Please, Rihanna, for the sake of all the young women watching, let them know that abuse is not to be tolerated, not to be forgiven. Don't let more young men grow up thinking it's okay to use their fists on the women they supposedly love. What a lousy message for Valentine's Day, or any day, ever.