What do you think about Chris Brown’s new tattoo?

Do you think it looks like Rhianna after she was battered:

It took me a long time to understand that once you are out of a domestic violence situation, it just means you are out of physical harm. The emotional harm is far reaching and impacts every decision you make. It consumes your every thought, although you don’t realize it. Once you are taught to fear, that fear impacts every aspect of your life. I was never touched. I was however, brutally abused mentally. There were times at work when I would stay just a few minutes later than I had to, just to give me less time at home. I turned down professional opportunities that required travel, because of the fear of what would ensue when I got home. “What did you do while you were there?” “Who did you go with?” “Why didn’t you call?” A victim can’t ever answer those questions correctly. Nothing is ever right. I always drove a little bit slower the closer I got to the house every afternoon. I feared what the night would be like if his football team or baseball team lost. I learned to hate the sound of a beer can being opened. Even when someone pops open a can of coke at work, I become anxious. It’s like when a war vet hears a car back fire.

Some days were good. Actually, most were. I didn’t know however that my whole life was being designed to please him, because I feared him. I’m a very strong woman and one day I got the courage to go see a lawyer. I didn’t hire her, but she gave me papers to look over and her card. She told me to leave them out of sight like in my office or at a friends house. I left the papers in my car. One day, I asked him to take my car for an oil change. I forgot the papers were in there. The entire time he was gone, I prayed he wouldn’t find them. He came home and never mentioned it. For several days he never mentioned it. I just assumed he never saw them. I was wrong. He did find them and one night when I didn’t want to have sex, he went out to my car very calmly, came back in the house with the purple folder the papers were in, and laid them in front of me on the table. He didn’t say a word, his eyes said it all and later that night we had sex.

Chris Brown was in the news in 2009 for brutally beating his then girlfriend Rihanna. Domestic violence in the rap community is nothing new, nor in Hollywood in general. There is a part of me that actually believes the public enjoys this. They have to, because they wouldn’t still be supporting the media that exploits it and buying the records that promote it. Today it was reported that Chris Brown has a new tattoo on his neck. It’s a clear image of a woman who has been beaten up. He says that it isn’t Rihanna. His entourage and his manager says it isn’t Rihanna. I however, believe it is. Fear from an abuser can last a lifetime. By placing that tattoo on his neck he just told Rhianna that he still has power and he will stop at nothing to make sure she remembers what he did to her. The power and control can last long after the relationship ends.

I don’t know much about Rihanna or Chris Brown. I do know though, that domestic violence is powerful and all the money in the world won’t make that fear go away. My friends and I have a code. No one would ever guess it. Every night I leave a post on Facebook about something totally random. I might mention about a tv show I watched or about something that happened that day. It doesn’t matter. They in turn check to make sure I left the post. That’s their way of knowing I’m ok. The reason we do this is because fear is so powerful that it makes you scared to act. When I don’t post anything, I get a text that is also benign in nature. We have codes and those codes are for safety.

I’ll tell you that I’ve had enough of this conversation of domestic violence and the story of the woman who is raped and beaten. It’s fear that does the damage. You can’t arrest someone for instilling fear. You can’t arrest someone for getting a tattoo on their neck. It’s all a game to them of power and control. Women in power or the public eye, always act strong for the tv cameras. Just look at how women whose husbands have affairs act. Look at Sandra Bullock or Elizabeth Edwards. They are so strong. At least that’s what they show us. Look at what happened to Whitney Houston. Look at the popularity of Eminem. He actively sings about domestic violence and hate as a way to make money and we buy the albums. I even have one. My justification, “I love the beat.” Rihanna and Eminem sang, “I Love the Way You Lie,” as a statement of domestic violence. She plays the role of going back because she loves being treated like this and he plays the role of believing they were meant to be together, “I guess this is what happens when a tornado meets a volcano.” “If she ever tries to leave again I’m going to tie her to the bed and set this house on fire.” That song won Grammy’s. It made a statement, but it didn’t make an impact, because it was seen as two people who deserve each other and love the violence.

We have to start telling this story the way the story really happens, because the world won’t change if we keep sanitizing it and we have to stop the financial support for these artists who are using domestic violence and hate as a way to make money.

Here’s another thought on this:  Laura Bates