Is it just me or do we American’s have the shortest memories on the planet?
February 8, 2009 may not ring a bell for you… but I’d like to share a story and maybe after you finish reading it, you will understand what I mean about what we choose to forget…
Her fists slammed onto the dashboard—she admits she was enraged—something from earlier that evening, a flirtation? An indiscretion? We will never know. And really? It does not matter.
He pulled over, reached across her, opened the door and tried to push her from the car but to no avail. She had a safety belt on.
Imagine her—close your eyes and picture it—for her protection from an accident she is strapped into the seat. But, what she was about to experience would be no accident.
Because he couldn’t shove her from his vehicle, he slams her head into the passenger window. The violation now ringing through her head she turns to him and with his closed fist he punches her in the left eye. And then he begins to drive again. Only while driving? He continues to punch her viscously.
Her mouth fills with blood—she can’t hold it in—it splatters all over her clothing and the car. His assault slows down and in that moment she reaches for the visor, flips it down…a swelling eye, puffed up lips, scrapes of torn flesh…stare back at her.
When someone beats you there are moments, in fact they may be recorded seconds, which slow down almost as if they were being controlled by a movie engineer. And I imagine her—in those exact split seconds her mind registering the damage thinking these words—there is no way I can hide this.
“When we get home I am going to beat the shit out of you! You wait and see!” His words crack into the silence. She grabs her phone—pushes a number which connects to an unanswered phone but, she pretends it is answered: “I am on my way home…make sure the cops are there when I get there.”
“You just did the stupidest thing ever, now I am really going to kill you!” and the violence, having caught its breath, begins again.
She interlocks her fingers behind her head, brings her arms together enveloping her already pulverized face and bends toward her lap in an effort to protect her face. The barrage of punches continues all over her left arm, where later, a massive contusion on her left triceps, will be documented.
Her boyfriend backs off. And again she makes an effort with her phone—this time a text message. He grabs the phone from her, throws it out the window onto the street, stops the car, and she scrambles to undo her seat belt and opens the car door desperately wanting to get to her phone.
Again I imagine her—cleaving to the notion that the phone somehow is going to offer her the protection the seat belt could not.
—But, he screeches from the stopped position causing the door to once again slam shut.
Did time slow down again?…
She notices his cell phone on his lap—with her left hand she grabs the phone. With his right arm, while driving, he puts her in a head lock….she feels the car swerving, she can’t move, her head now so close to him he can, and does, bite her right ear—again he stops the car. He releases her. She reaches for and grabs the keys from the ignition. She sits on the keys. He begins punching her all over yelling for the keys. Again he puts her in a head lock only this time he has the front of her throat between his bicep and forearm where he applies pressure and she can’t breathe.
SHE CAN’T BREATHE!
Somehow she manages to get her left hand to his face and attempts to gouge at his eyes. He bites her again—this time catching her ring and her middle finger between his teeth. He releases her.
She removes her shoe and begins to bang at the window in an effort to break it. He punches her all over…she turns, puts her back up against the passenger door and puts her feet onto him trying to shove him away from her…he continues to punch at her feet and legs—more bruises. She pushes her door open and begins to scream—she screams into the midnight air for help.
And in that moment all the worry about what people will say, think and do, is sucked out of the atmosphere…she is fighting for her life.
He exits the car, walks to the passenger side and attempts to shut the door—she pushes it back open and continues her screaming.
Not able to close the door he begins punching her arm…she continues to scream.
He stops walks to the driver side and he yells. “WHERE ARE MY FUCKING KEYS?!”
Where are my fucking keys. Not: what have I done…but, “WHERE ARE MY FUCKING KEYS?”
He looks for his keys all while she is screaming…but of course he doesn’t find them…she is sitting on them. Now he goes back to the driver side, and get this, he takes a pack of his CD’s and he walks away.
He takes his CD’s?
And that’s when the cops show up. They look for him but do not find him.
They document all of their observations—the abrasions, contusions, the blood splattered all over the car. They take photographs, pictures of her, pictures she will later wish had never been taken, pictures of the car we will never see. She complains of pain, but the cops don’t get her
medical assistance, she later will seek medical treatment at Cedar Sinai, but in those moments she is questioned, observed, documented.
And it all unfolds from there…hours later the world will learn that this wasn’t someone we have never heard of it was Rihanna. And the man who beat her, bit her, threatened to kill her, was none other than Chris Brown. Chris Brown whose fist and large ring tore at Rihanna repeatedly and without any mercy. Chris Brown who cut the oxygen off from Rihanna’s throat—yes, that Chris Brown.
The same Chris Brown who was charged with California Penal Code 422 , in layman’s terms: the code that states the defendant threatened
to kill the victim. The same Chris Brown who pled guilty to assault charges and whose sentencing was five years of probation and to spend more than 1,400 hours in “labor-oriented service” and 52 hours in domestic violence training.
Fast forward to February 12, 2012 or The “what we choose to forget” part: The same Chris Brown, who is not yet finished with his probation terms, is one of the key attractions at the Grammy’s—on a stage performing for millions of people—a platform that was given to him by The Grammy Foundation, the advertisers and the countless fans.
Excuse me? What?
Later we learn about Matt Stoperas’ article, 25 Extremely Upsetting Reactions to Chris Brown at the Grammy’s, which highlights Twitter feeds of girls who welcome a beating from Chris Brown. Yes, the same Chris Brown who threatened to kill Rihanna and beat her repeatedly.
February is National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month—the alarming trend in the tweets reveals the staggering lack of awareness among youth. There is nothing, and I mean nothing, glamorous about fighting for your life.
There is no amount of good looks, talent, fame, or wealth that makes up for the humiliation, fear, betrayal and permanent affect on a psyche that abuse in a relationship has. The victim blaming rolls from the lips of young people struggling to make sense of a syndrome which has been normalized by our half asleep, amnesiac culture.
If you do nothing else today—I beg of you—take the time to open up a conversation about Chris Brown and Rihanna, victim blaming, relationship abuse and our seemingly forgetful nation, with your teen.
You may think I am being dramatic…think again…reach out to any of the foundations listed on my Organizations Working to End Dating Violence resource page. Ask them, they know, each one of those families buried their daughter after she was murdered by a guy who claimed to love her.