So in honor of my book, “I know why they call a shell a shell: Tales of love lost at sea” and Valentine’s Day (my favorite holiday and my book’s release date), I am going to write about relationships for the next week or so. Yesterday’s post, “Abusive Relationships: Leave Before You Leave in A Body Bag” got some really interesting responses because so many of us know this pain.
Today I am going to talk about Rihanna and how she is rumored to be back with Chris Brown- how did that happen?
There is so much stuff going on psychologically in an abusive relationship that I could talk about it for days (and probably will if you let me, ha). When Rihanna was successfully removed from the Chris Brown situation, it was not entirely on her own accord, but through court ordered restraining orders and likely the intervention of family and friends. The fact that she did not willingly choose to leave has a lot to do with why she’s back.
She went on Barbara Walters shortly after the relationship was over, and after hearing her peace, we all believed that she was done but did she? Usually a person knows when it isn’t over and that is why they go back months, and in Rihanna’s case, years later. The longest I was away from an abuser was a month or two and then I went back. It was through intervention of family and friends that got me out of one of the relationships and almost being murdered that got me out of the other. The first guy I was with, who was also abusive, I walked out of on my own, but my strength apparently went downhill from there. So wouldn’t one or more years be enough for Rihanna to gain enough perspective to get away? You would think so.
When you’re in an abusive relationship, deep down you know something’s not right, that it’s not the right person for you, and that you are doing the wrong thing. However, you are paralyzed to do anything about it mainly because for one reason or another, you’ve become invested. You have given away a part of yourself to this person and you are not ready to give the relationship up, because in your mind you believed by giving the part of you that you gave, you earned the partnership, so why should you let them go now? The more drama and the more issues of theirs you put up with, the larger your investment becomes and the only interest you earn is the opportunity to hang out with them. You think that they want to be around you after all you’ve done for them but then they push you away- and you can’t wrap your mind around why.
Now here comes the second facet of this scenario, they leave you- or leave you hanging. They cheat on you, hit you, call you a bitch, cunt, fat, and you stay. You stay and you cry and cry. The pain caused by their words and actions is agonizing because let’s be honest, both of you know that you’re not going anywhere. So in the midst of your tears, somewhere in the back of your mind is this realization, this knowledge that you will be staying for the duration regardless of what they do or what names they may currently be calling you.
Sooner of later, when your mate is done blowing off their steam or maybe they’re bored, they come around. They might even apologize- though usually, it’s more of a pathetic excuse for an apology than anything. The sea is calm again. You’re exhausted but feel the physical relief that comes when the tears have finally stopped. You sniffle a little, your tears are drying up, your body is tired. The both of you spend the night cuddling on the couch watching whatever show he wants to watch. He hands you the remote control and urges you to choose something, “Really?” you ask, shocked and honored, as if you’d just been handed the key to the Crown Jewels of something.
You vaguely remember having the same dynamics with your mother or father. The way they abused you when no one was around. The way they acted wonderful and charming in public, to family and friends, always made you sick, even though someone would’ve thought you were to young to comprehend what was going on, you did. For days the abuse continued, and you begged them to stop, begged them. They caused you that same feeling- the crying that never ends-sense of urgency and panic-feeling. Then when they were tired or bored they started to be nice to you again, for a few minutes at least. The second you fell into their placation the abuse started all over again, as did your attempt to appease them.
So why do people end up in abusive relationships? Because when abusive dynamics are the same dynamics that have bonded them to their parents, their brain has grown to believe that abuse is actually love. The abused brain has never experienced love from their parent- the typical thing that bonds one to their mother or father- instead they have been trapped and bonded to their parent within the cycle of abuse. Therefore, the cycle is actually comforting and familiar to the abused in an abusive relationship.
So that is why Rihanna thinks that what she has with Chris Brown is love. I understand where she’s coming from, but she really needs a conservatorship so someone can legally lock her in her room til she comes to her senses, the man beat her face in already, he is not going to stop there. So now that she is back, you are probably wondering why. So back to the investment I spoke about I the beginning. She has made an emotional investment in him and in a relationship- a relationships that she knows is very dysfunctional and wrong. The longer she stays in this dysfunctyional relationship that she knows is wrong, the longer she feels she has to stay in the long run, for a few reasons.
Firstly she is trying to prove herself right and everyone else wrong. She is trying to justify her choice to be there and is intent on staying until she has proved to herself and the world that it was a good choice. Mainly, she is staying out of guilt. There is likely something “wrong” with her- not just Brown. It is likely that like most of us, she is damaged and has confided in him some type of mental issue or something very upsetting and personal that happened in her childhood. It is also likely that when she told him about it, he listened sympathetically and even metaphorically took up arms against whomever had hurt her in the past. This gesture has helped her heal a bit, as far as the previous issue was concerned, and because of it she feels that she owes him because he helped her. She subconsiously does not want to leave him because she feels guilty about doing so because of all he did for her regarding her past pain and helping her work through it. This is also why she feels that others don’t understand their love- they ave never seen this sympathetic side of him, which he has moreso shown to her in order to keep her rather than to help her. She doesn’t realize this and believes he has been sincere. She doesn’t want his help to go in vain and she doesn’t want to break up with him because that makes her feel like she was using him to be comforted- which maye she was- but she doesn’t want to admit that to herself, the world, or him, so instead she will just stay and this is the biggest reason she got pulled back in.
They were unwillingly seperated, so when he came sniffing back around she was too weak to stay away from him because subconsciously she felt indentured to him because of whatever he’d helped her with. There is a large guilt componenet in abusive relationships in general, and this is where it comes in. It is guilt not love that brings women back into a situation with an abuser and guilt that keeps them asking for more.