After graduation that year, the violence really escalated. He insisted that I accompany him, against my parents' wishes, while he traveled from town to town working for the Census Bureau.
One day when we had a disagreement, he threw me on the bed, punched my face, grabbed my hair and broke a wine bottle and held the jagged edge up against my neck. He was shaking with rage. I broke free and ran for the elevator in the hotel we were staying in while he screamed that he'd kill me if I made a scene. He followed me down to the lobby and started apologizing, so I finally went back upstairs with him. He cried and held me and promised never to do it again if I forgave him... so I did.
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But a few days later he blew up and accused me of cheating with one of his co-workers whom I barely knew. This time he punched me in the face and plugged an iron into the wall and held it up close to my cheek. I kicked him and knocked the iron out of his hands and ran down to the lobby to try and call my mom from a pay phone. He followed and screamed at me to get off the phone. Someone called 911 and the police came. I was shaking and hysterical, but I refused to press charges.
In my mind I was making excuses for him. He had only done this because he thought I was cheating on him. I was so young and naive. My parents talked to his parents and we agreed he would drive me home the next day.
Once we were both at college—different ones—the beatings on our weekend visits became even more frequent. He'd beat me in his dorm room, my dorm room, the car. He'd hit me with a water bottle, a coke can. He'd choke me. One Valentine's Day he beat me because he was angry that I brought him a rose and he hadn't gotten me anything.
That time was really bad—the beating went on and on until I could barely move. I was screaming for help but nobody heard me. Finally, he called his mom to tell her 'I think I really hurt her this time.' When I tried to escape while he was talking on the phone, he threw it and hit me on the head.
Sometimes after a weekend with him, I'd look so bad I couldn't go back to my college. I'd have to hide out in his room for a few days, sneaking down to the girl's bathroom at night. I'd stand there and look at myself and cry. 'What am I doing? Keith did this to me,' I'd say that over and over.
I didn't know what to do because despite everything I felt like he was still my best friend and only love. My family and friends all wanted me to break up with him, so I couldn't turn to them for help. They'd just lecture me. And his parents knew what he was doing but they didn't intervene. I felt too alone to leave him.
Finally after two years, my parents managed to persuade me to come on a family trip for two weeks. For the first time, I was really away from him and they wouldn't let me call or email him.
I still loved him, but I decided I wanted him to get professional help and I wouldn't see him in the meantime. He called my mom's house for hours on end, and I wouldn't pick up.
That's when he came after me with a gun.
So Rihanna, don't let it come to this. I know Chris has apologized and he's doing everything he can to make you trust him again and you think he deserves that second chance. Don't do it. It will only get worse."
After Keith shot himself, Kristen discovered an email he'd sent her, minutes before barging into her house. Chillingly it read, "I'm sorry. Your new life is about to begin. I will be gone. You were my kitten. I'll see you in heaven."
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For more on Rihanna and Chris and relationship abuse follow Bonnie at Twitter.com/bonniefuller.