If People magazine were to be believed (and they're usually credible), Chris Brown and Rihanna are back together.
I am horrified but I'm not surprised. I was also once in an abusive relationship. Everyone gets shocked when they learn this about me. Apparently, abuse doesn't happen to smart girls. Not so. Abusive men start off being really wonderful—they shower you with so much love and attention, gifts and flattery. Really, you won't know what hit you. Pardon the pun.
In the first few weeks of being together, I remember he started saying, "You shouldn't be friendly with your ex-boyfriend. It's not proper." So I stopped talking to the ex-guy since I thought the current one had a point.
Next he said, "Don't be too friendly with other guys. People think you're a flirt." So I stopped seeing my guy friends.
Then he said, "Your friends are such a bad influence on you. You really should stop seeing them." This one I resisted, but he wore me out with his constant nagging that I finally did stop seeing my friends. It was a two-way street. My friends, disgusted with me, turned away, too.
All alone now, I was vulnerable when he moved in for the kill. He started with little insults—"Only nerds wear glasses," "Your pimples are gross," "You're so flat-chested, you must be a guy." My confidence completely eroded, I believed him when he said, "I don't know why I'm with you when I can do so much better." He made me feel grateful that he chose to stay with me—ugly, pimply, flat-chested nerd that I was.
By the time we celebrated our first anniversary as a couple, I had no friends. This really didn't bother me since I had his love, and I believed with all my 19-year-old heart that that was all I needed. Never mind the daily insults or the smothering attention. Never mind the jealous rages or the crazy suspicions. After all, I not only believed I was ugly (and therefore deserved to be insulted), I was a hot-head myself so if he got angry at me, I must've provoked him. He sure made sure I knew that.
On our first anniversary date, we had argued over shawarma. He had wanted beef, I think, or chicken. I don't remember. I came back from the food stall (yes, our anniversary dinner was at a food stall) with the filling he didn't want. He got angry. I got angry back. It became a shouting match. Unfortunately for him, I'm lethal when it came to words. Unable to fight back with words, he fought back with his fists.
Then he fled—in his car, at 11pm, with my bag and wallet and asthma medicine inside. I was all alone in the dark streets, no money. After my initial shock and horror, I approached people for help. Everyone avoided me--skinny girl with a bloody lip, asking for money for a pay phone. Finally, a guy tossed me a P20 bill. It was enough money to get me home. In the jeepney, I didn't realize I was shaking until a guy offered me his jacket. When he wrapped his jacket around my shoulders, only then did I start crying. He asked if I needed help. I said no, I just wanted to go home.
I slipped into my room quietly. The bleeding had already stopped. The bruises will appear in the morning, although I didn't know that yet. I just crept into bed, exhausted and in shock. I swore I'd never see him again. Of course when he turned up on my doorstep with a beautiful bouquet of flowers and the most repentant look on his face three days later, I took him back. He said sorry. He said it would never happen again. When I hugged him, he gently said, "If you only got the beef... Why do you have to be so inattentive?"
I stayed with him for three more years. I didn't tell anyone about the abuse. I was scared people would break us up. I loved him, and I knew he loved me. I thought my love was big enough to change him. Yes, despite the many many terrible fights and bruises, despite the girls he had on the side, I stayed. I believed that if you loved someone, you don't walk away. Besides, I didn't have any friends. I was terrified of being alone.
When did I leave? We were at a mall and I saw him staring at another girl. I teased him if I could stare at other guys. He responded by hitting me so hard on my back, I lost my breath. He started pulling me to I really don't know where. We were in a public place so I began shouting at people for help. "Help me! He's going to hurt me!" People did look, paused, but they all walked away. I heard them say repeatedly, "Don't get involved. It's just a lover's quarrel."
Despite the years of his abuse, it was only on that day that something in me truly died. I was alone, and no one was going to help me. At the same time, something in me—the old me—awakened. The old me had a nasty temper, the old me had pride, and the old me would never allow this asshole to treat me like shit. I started fighting back. He finally had to let me go because his scratches were bleeding. He ran away.
Unfortunately that wasn't the end of it. We still saw each other. Less and less. We still fought, but now I fought back. Strangely enough, when I fought back, he stopped. He began seeing other girls. I took this not as a betrayal but as a relief. I also began seeing my friends again, who formed a fierce protective wall around me. Finally, we just didn't see each other anymore.
Do I hate him? No. Not anymore. It's been a decade. I'm no longer that scared little girl who allowed an insecure little idiot to terrify and abuse her. I'm also not stupid anymore. No one tells me I'm ugly or worthless. No one can have that power over me again. I don't allow that kind of shit from anybody anymore.
Rihanna took Chris back because she loved him. She may also believe that it was her fault he hit her and that she deserved it. She may also believe that she can change him, that they can work it out. She also reportedly got a diamond bracelet as a gift—I tell you, these abusive men, they know how to give gifts. It doesn't mean a girl can be bought but a nice gift sure does soften you up. Will it end well for Rihanna and Chris? I really doubt it. But I'm not going to condemn her; I know exactly where she's coming from. She needs help, but until she realizes this, she's going to continue being abused and I hope to heaven that she comes out of this alive.
If you are in an abusive relationship, please get out now. No matter what he says or what anybody says, it's not your fault he hit you. Love never involves belittling, insulting or hurting. Please read this story and know that you're not alone in this fight. Please get help.