One would do well to remind Brown that it was Rhianna who walked away with swelling and facial contusions.
Eight years following the horrendous altercation that left Chris Brown pleading guilty to battery charges, having punched, bitten, and pushed his then-girlfriend Rihanna, comes Chris Brown: Welcome To My Life (2017).
Domestic violence activists are condemning the 110-minute documentary, produced by RIVETING ENTERTAINMENT, as a platform from which Brown justifies the violence he perpetrated against the woman he allegedly wished to marry.
Pitched as “a chance to tell his own story”, the documentary presents an extended feature in which Brown does just that. Providing intimate details about the moments leading up to what many believed would end his career.
While the performer admits that “It never was ok” and he felt like a “monster”, Brown maintains Rihanna antagonised him – “she’s fighting me”, “she hits me a couple more times”, “she tried to kick me”.
Here, Brown’s narrative echoes many other perpetrators of violence against women – “She would hit me; I would hit her” – as if he could vindicate himself by attributing blame to his victim.
And it’s this that has drawn censure from activists. Groups such as Women's Aid and Refuge, which provide specialist support to survivors of domestic abuse, have denounced Brown’s attempt to deflect personal responsibility for the altercation, thus minimising his role in the abuse.
"Brown is sending out a very dangerous message to both survivors and abusers by relieving himself of the responsibility for his actions by blaming Rihanna for provoking him", Women's Aid CEO Katie Ghose
While Brown has expressed regret and issued a public apology for his vicious attack against Rihanna, viewers of “Welcome To My Life” are not made privy to this information. Viewers are only exposed to what Brown and his publicists have chosen to highlight about the abuse, how they have chosen to highlight it, and what they have chosen to neglect - thus, resulting in a wave of victim blaming and exemption from gendered violence.
Whether or not Rihanna was physical with Brown during their exchange is irrelevant and does not constitute a justification for his actions. The fact stands: Brown made a series of decisions to brutally punch, bite, and push Rhianna. Chris brown is a known offender of violence and not just to Rihanna.
Karrueche Tran, Brown’s former girlfriend, revealed in court this year that Brown stalked and threatened her for months following the couple's breakup. TMZ reports that her testimony helped convince a judge to grant a five-year restraining order against Brown. Tran revealed in court that Brown was violent with her on more than one occasion during their relationship.
Brown was barred from Australia when activist organisation GetUp initiated a petition against his 2015 tour to prevent further normalisation of violence against women in Australian culture. Citing his conviction of assault, Immigration Minister Peter Dutton confirmed that a Notice of Intention to Consider Refusal of Brown’s visa had been issued to the performer.
However, Australia’s attempt to shift the culture is yet to show results as a 2015 study reveals that when Australians are told about cases of men disrespecting and treating young women aggressively, they tend to blame the women. Shockingly, a 2017 study shows that the media are also guilty of blaming victims of abuse.
These results are particularly concerning as the media are highly influential in shaping public opinion in matters of domestic violence. Domestic violence advocates fear that viewers will buy into Brown’s attempts to blame Rhianna for the abuse she suffered at his hands.
We would do well to remember that survivors are never to blame. And, regardless of how the perpetrator expresses their narrative, they alone are responsible for the violence they commit against others.
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About the Author: Violeta Buljubasic detests pornography and anything that resembles it. Cognisant of its devastating consequences, she believes that porn and the raunch culture from which it stems are symptoms of a ubiquitous ill that has removed sex and sexuality from their original design. Moved by the work of Collective Shout, Fight the New Drug, and NCOSE, Violeta hopes to be part of the solution to this insidious problem.