“Good Girl Gone Bad,” the title of Rihanna’s third album turned out to be more than a motto but a theme. A theme that has echoed thru time and has now returned to the spotlight as high profile, international superstar Rihanna has been affected by it, and that is Domestic Violence.
So often, as much as we’ve heard “Once Upon A Time,” the innocence of love and the desire for a happy ending, clouds real life leaving those on the outside wondering what is s/he thinking and why don’t they just leave? When these cases are reported.
As an over comer of being victimized by domestic violence so many factors contributed to the questioning debate of should I stay or should I go for myself. During my sophomore year in college, a year and a half after refusing the request of being the girlfriend of my fellow college mate, I gave in and said yes, on Valentine’s Day. Before we could celebrate our first anniversary known for lovers we brought a child in to the world, a decision that forced us to cross the thin line.
As I previously mentioned so many factors lead to this spiral that turned from high emotions to low blows. One was ignorance, my misunderstanding that humble meant modest and not filling someone else’s void of how they feel about themselves and/or being someone’s punching bag. Second were our cultural differences, he was of West Indian decent and what was ok to him was foreign to me. Third was control (another form of abuse equally as damaging) as I stepped into my new role as a soon to be mother being responsible for the growing fetus inside my womb, the one who contributed to the other part of the fusion told me I only had one option; an abortion.
After opposing his adamant demand both my life and the life of my unborn child was in danger, as he threatened to beat the baby out of my stomach. It only took a few episodes of physical abuse of punching me in the stomach and pushing me off the bed, for me to move away from the interaction but not the relationship.
As Rihanna is secluded from the media and her boyfriend, Chris Brown, she is faced with one of the biggest decisions of her life “should I stay or should I go?” Every case of domestic violence is different but they each have their warning signs. After a year and a half of being chased around campus by someone who later became my boyfriend, I did not associate this aggressive and persistent behavior as one of the crucial warning signs. Other potential indicators are: telling a partner they are nothing without him/her, using intimidation or threats to gain compliance and blaming the partner for how they feel, to name a few.
It is reported that separation is one of the most dangerous times for victims of domestic violence. 75% of domestic violence homicides occur after separation. It is a miracle I am among the 25% who leave with their life. Five years of being apart of and “on and off” fiasco showed me that nothing was going to change. No matter how many times he said it would get better and that he didn’t mean it. Once someone decides it is okay to harm another person they will continue to believe it is ok (without the proper help) whether it is repressed or on the surface. This leaves anything to be a trigger for their next outburst to their partner, spouse, boyfriend, girlfriend and even their families and pets, which is not fair.
In a sense I was a good girl who had something bad happen to her but in the end I do have a happy ending by letting go and sticking to what I knew was right. My daughter deserved a chance. A chance to know what love really is and what it is not and not to settle for less, because the person who will have the greatest influence stepped out on faith and showed her how.
Josayne M Anderson-Tejera is Editor & Chief of www.onceforallinc.org an online magazine dedicated to domestic violence and violence against women. She also has an annual fund at her alumni institution, the university of Hartford for Domestic Violence Awareness and Prevention.