R&B singer Chris Brown, who recently pleaded guilty to felony assault for an attack on his girlfriend, Rihanna, is now launching a verbal attack against none other than Oprah Winfrey in the new issue of People magazine. He is upset that Winfrey aired a show about domestic violence that she dedicated to "all the Rihannas of the world." Brown tells People:
"I commend Oprah on being like, 'This is a problem,' but it was a slap in my face. I did a lot of stuff for her, like going to Africa and performing for her school. She could've been more helpful, like, 'OK, I'm going to help both of these people out.' "
Winfrey's rep responded by telling TMZ, "Oprah is very appreciative that Chris Brown performed at her school, but she takes domestic abuse very seriously. She hopes he gets the counseling he needs."
I think Oprah is right on the mark here. I sometimes question how she covers certain health issues, like bioidentical hormones. But in this case, she should be applauded for not allowing Brown to play the victim card.
Brown blames his actions on witnessing domestic abuse as a child. There's an unfortunate acceptance of violence against women in our culture, notes Rita Smith, executive director of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, and it's responsible for the outrageous fact that 1 in 4 women will experience domestic violence during her lifetime. (Men, too, are victims, though not as often.) Quite a few of the reader comments from my February blog post on this issue supported Chris Brown, saying that Rihanna drove him to it.
In taking her one-sided stand in support of Rihanna, Winfrey was countering the notion that it takes two to tango. Far too frequently, Smith says, our society rushes to find some excuse for the assault, like a sexy text message from another guy or a blistering argument that went one step too far. Winfrey isn't accepting any of these rationalizations, and she's sending the message that we shouldn't either.
If you're a victim of domestic violence, Smith says that the Internet is a good tool for locating free shelters in your area, though she urges women not to use their own home computers for these searches (doing so leaves an easy path for partners to follow). The National Domestic Violence Hotline (1-800-799-SAFE) is another great resource.