Rihanna Chris Brown

February 24, 2012 by staff 

Rihanna Chris Brown, Rihanna and Chris Brown did more than just flirt on Twitter or release new duets this week. They also sent a dangerous message to the world. Three years after a horrifying incident, in which he savagely punched her, bit her, put her in a headlock and threatened to kill her, all seems to be forgiven and forgotten. In the glitzy melodrama of their willfully entangled lives, both are eager to scrub the ugly past from their shared history.

On Monday, the ex-couple unleashed remixes of two songs: Brown’s “Turn Up The Volume” and Rihanna’s “Birthday Cake.” The marketing-driven collaborations arrived in the wake of the Grammy Awards, during which Brown performed and won a trophy, suggesting the besieged music industry is also eager to forgive and forget.

But for fans of the stars, including some young women who tweeted unsettling proclamations while Brown was gyrating on the Grammy stage – “chris brown can punch me whenever he wants!” – this rekindled spark has created a harmful blind spot to the issue of domestic violence.

“The message that they are sending is that abusive men have changed when they say they are better,” says Norman Quantz, an Alberta therapist and author of It’s All About Power and Control. “And that’s a lie believed by many women.”

Or as Steven Stosny, author of Love Without Hurt, observes: “Because of their public image, it sends a dreadful message that without any kind of intervention, battering can get better. We know from a lot of research that without massive intervention it gets worse.”

Even if the whispers of a romantic reunion are false, the fact relations have normalized while Brown is serving his five-year probation sentence for felony assault is precisely the kind of slippery slope experts could have predicted.

“What we are seeing played out here is something that happens in a number of abusive relationships,” says Nancy Salamone, the founder and chief executive of The Business of Me, a program that teaches financial self-sufficiency to women trapped in violent relationships. “It takes about seven or eight times for a woman to make that break for good.”

This “rubber band effect,” as some psychologists refer to it, always triggers the same question: “Why is the woman going back?”

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