When photos of Rihanna first circulated on the World Wide Web, everyone was shocked by her bruised face because, how can such a powerful woman be a victim of domestic abuse? But it shines the light on the fact that domestic abuse victims don’t have a specific profile. They’re not necessarily weak; they’re not necessarily quiet—they could be the strongest women we know. But they all share one thing in common: they are victims.
If they’re so strong, why not just speak up then?
It’s easier said than done. For some victims, they hold on to the hope that someday, their loved ones would change and stop the abuse. For others, there’s just no getting out for fear of their lives or those around them. Some of them don’t even know why they keep holding on.
Based on an article on The Straits Times, spousal abuse is the most common form of family violence in Singapore. Family violence can also involve children, the elderly or anyone in a domestic setting. While intimate partner violence can be considered domestic violence if a couple cohabits, you can’t discount the seriousness of the former even if the couple are not living together.
In fact, abuse doesn’t only take physical form, but also emotional form. More importantly, know that it is possible to leave an abusive relationship and you’re not wrong for doing that, no matter how much the abuser tries to tell you otherwise. These celebrities who have been in abusive relationships share their stories.
Rihanna’s case was high profile because 1) it involved the singer herself and 2) it involved rapper Chris Brown. At that time, they were one of the most enviable couples—until people found out his abusive ways. But Rihanna admitted to Vanity Fair that even after the incident, she thought she could change him. “I was very protective of him. I felt that people didn’t understand him. Even after … But you know, you realize after a while that in that situation you’re the enemy. You want the best for them, but if you remind them of their failures, or if you remind them of bad moments in their life, or even if you say I’m willing to put up with something, they think less of you—because they know you don’t deserve what they’re going to give. And if you put up with it, maybe you are agreeing that you [deserve] this, and that’s when I finally had to say, ‘Uh-oh, I was stupid thinking I was built for this.’ Sometimes you just have to walk away.”
Halle grew up with an abusive father who would often leave her mum battered. She never forgave her father, but wondered if the experience led her to choosing the wrong boyfriends. One of her exes hit her so hard that she lost 80% of her hearing in one year. She doesn’t want to name him, but according to one of her exes, the guy was a “Hollywood boyfriend”. Halle is now an advocate for individuals with disabilities.
Unfortunately, you can’t choose your father and children don’t really have the power or strength to retaliate in face of abuse. Christina recalled that her father, who worked in the military, was abusive towards her family when she was younger. She told E! News, “I witnessed a lot of unpleasant things—a lot of pushing and shoving and fighting and quarrelling. Growing up I did not feel safe. Feeling powerless is the worst feeling in the world. I turned to singing as an outlet. The pain at home is where my love for music came from.” It was only after that her mother found four-year-old Christina with a bloodied face that she decided to pack up and leave with her daughters.
Charlize grew up with her mother and an abusive, alcoholic father. When she was 15, he threatened her and her mother with a gun, and her mother shot him in self-defense. She witnessed everything. She told New York Times, “That was my entire childhood. My trauma was all of that.” She now supports victims of abuse and have opened up two rape crisis centres.
Abusive relationships sometimes may not entail physical abuse. Rather, the abuser can attack the victim emotionally. Mariah revealed on Larry King Live that she was a victim of emotional abuse by an ex-boyfriend when she addressed Rihanna’s abuse case on the show. She said, “”Abuse has several different categories . . . emotionally, mentally, in other ways. It’s scary. You know, I just think you get into a situation and you feel locked in, if your situation is similar to one of the situations that I’ve been in, which I won’t harp on.”
The Japanese model called her actor boyfriend Jiang Jinfu out for abusing her by posting photos of her bruises on Instagram. He apologised to her on social media and turned himself in to the police. Jinfu wrote on his Weibo page, “I spent the past month in regret. My impulsive behaviour has hurt you and your family, and I should not have hit you no matter the reason.” Sadly, a few celebrities came to his defense and victim-blamed Haruka, leading to netizens to voice their anger and disappointment.
Images: TPG/Click Photos, Haruka Nakaura’s Instagram