Monday, February 16, 2009

The Rihanna Factor

If you weren’t camping out under a rock, I’m sure you heard about the Rihanna/Chris Brown story last week, the one where he beat her to a bloody pulp in his rental car. I bring this up because it highlights a very important issue. Rihanna is rich, famous and beautiful, but it didn’t protect her from domestic violence.

I know when I think of domestic violence, I always think of older, married women. But the demographic most vulnerable to domestic violence is actually young women age 16 to 24. Statistics say that one in four high school relationships is physically or sexually violent.

The only bright spot here is that there are warning signs. Excessive jealousy, which many teens see as a sign of devotion, is one, characterized by things such as controlling what their partner wears and does and who they see. Sometimes this is as far as it goes, but more often than not, it escalates to physical, emotional and sexual abuse.

If you’re a teenager, right now you’re creating the habits you’ll follow for the rest of your life, which is why everyone’s on you not to smoke or do drugs. This is another one of those habits. If you let a significant other control you or abuse you now, chances are you’ll be allowing it for the rest of your life. So please, please, if what I just described sounds like your boyfriend or girlfriend, end it now before it's too late. And don't do it alone; get some help. If he or she becomes threatening, you might even have to get a PFA (Protection From Abuse, or a restraining order). Sounds melodramatic, I know, but so is getting hospitalized with a busted-up kidney or something worse.

And if someone you know is dating someone who acts overly jealous or controlling, or if you think your friend is getting physically hurt, do something. Talk to your parents or theirs, or a guidance counselor. Yeah, this is going to involve some betrayals of confidence, and your friend will probably freak. But this is one of those situations where freak-outs are kind of necessary. And would you rather have a friend who’s a statistic or a survivor?

Find Jacquelyn Sylvan's book, Surviving Serendipity, at Amazon or Quake Direct!


Mary Cunningham said...

Great advice for any age, Jacquelyn, but especially for young people who can stop the abuse before it becomes a pattern.

Regan Black said...

Fabulous statement, and so very true.

It is important to know when to take a stand. If you're concerned for yourself or a friend, find that reliable adult and make a difference.


Anonymous said...

As someone who was abused I will tell you to recognize that you are of great value in this world and YOU deserve to be loved and cherished, not hurt.

If ever you begin to feel like you don't matter, please don't be afraid to go to someone you trust.

Life is precious and you are precious, no matter who you are!

Anonymous said...

Too bad the recent primary and general elections were filled with sexist, abusive language and actions. This only taught men everywhere that sexism and the abuse that comes with it are all right. And none of the people at the top of the tickets ever called a halt to it -- so they are as guilty as anyone.

Even the media got into the act -- Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews were so abusive of Hillary Clinton and other women, that it was stunning. But no one called them on it. Not even when Olbermann said that someone should take Hillary into a back room and that only HE should come out. A call to violence against a woman? You bet. Did anyone take him to task for it? Nope.

If that isn't shocking and detestable, then this society has a longer way to go than anyone thought.

The abuse continued with Sara Palin (whatever you thought of her politically), and recently with Helen Thomas who was abused by Bill O'Reilly in a rotten display of sexism.

So this recent incident doesn't surprise at all.

Norm Cowie said...

I applied for PFB (protection from balding), but somehow my request seemed to have been misfiled or something.

My sister was attacked once and I have two daughters who weigh just over 200 lbs combined. I know I can't be everywhere to protect them all of the time. It's a very helpless feeling.