Rihanna's 21st birthday on Saturday highlights an aspect of this case that no one seems to be talking about. Rihanna and Chris Brown are young (Chris is 19). Sure, they're celebrities who have faced the pressure of the public eye, and they've done serious work at an age when many people are skipping class because they did too many keg stands. But no matter what adult situations they've successfully navigated the fact remains that they are not grown-ups. They need guidance and support. Which brings us to Bonnie Fuller's essay on Huffington Post.
Fuller argues that Rihanna should look to Tina Turner, another uber-successful performer who was dogged by domestic violence. Fuller writes:
Most women who are victims of domestic violence have so little self esteem that they blame themselves for provoking their beatings. They believe that their own behavior invited the abuse, telling themselves: I'm "too demanding" "too needy" or "not attractive enough."
It's hard to understand how someone with Rihanna's success and beauty would feel anything short of excellent all the time, but again, Rihanna is just out of her teens. She had her first major success when she was 17 years old—she went straight from being an adolescent (awkward years for most of us) to a heavy-duty career woman. She hasn't had time to build the self-confidence that an older woman might have—and even grown women fall prey to self-esteem issues and domestic violence.
Rihanna still wants to be with Chris Brown. Speaking about her birthday celebreation, an"insider" told the Daily News this weekend that, "Rihanna so wanted Chris with her on her big day, but obviously realizes why they can't be together right now. It's becoming more and more clear that she can't be without him."
As Fuller points out:
Turner's lover was also a famous musician and the partner in her entertainment career. She also became involved with him when she was very young, just 18.
Tina ended up with a battered and bloody face like Rihanna. In her case, she finally made a decision to flee her relationship in 1976, and had to show her bruised face to the manager of a Ramada Inn in Dallas, in order to get a room to stay for free. She had escaped from Ike penniless and with nowhere to go.
Rihanna needs to ask herself "Do I want to spend years of my life, like Tina, trapped in a relationship so controlling that I could lose all my self-esteem and control over my own finances?" It could happen.
We hope that wherever it comes from, that Rihanna gets the support and guidance she needs to end her relationship with Chris Brown. She needs to put this incident behind her so her adult life—which has barely begun—can be full of love, both for herself and her non-violent partner.