Pop singer Robyn Rihanna Fenty's last album sold more than 6 million copies. She is also a Cover Girl model. But she has become even more famous recently for being the face of domestic violence. In February, Rihanna's boyfriend Chris Brown beat her until she called 911.
Celebrity news site TMZ.com displayed a picture of the "Umbrella" singer with a swollen face, busted lip and knotted forehead; and The Smoking Gun released a detective's report detailing how Brown had punched Rihanna and threatened to kill her.
All this brought back painful memories for me. When I was 4, I witnessed my father shoot my 23-year-old mother. That night is one of my earliest recollections, but there are others — my mother running down the street in a nightgown chased by my father; my mother's hand shaking, holding a butcher knife she was unable to use because my father had started to choke her.
My parents were legally separated when my father shot my mother, but my mother did not have a restraining order.
Luckily my mother survived, got a job and a place of her own, and broke the cycle — no man has hit her since. While my earliest memories are of my mother in sheer terror, most of my memories are of her being fearless, happy and in control.
To hear that Rihanna has called Brown's stay-away order "unnecessary" and asked for it to be removed, to see her out in public with Brown again after the beating has me rankled ... with Brown, sure, but mostly with Rihanna.
I'm angry at Rihanna. I know — she's 21 and a victim. Unlike most victims of domestic violence, she's also wealthy, famous and admired. She should use her power and experience to influence her generation.
My mother wasn't much older than Rihanna is now when my father started beating her. My mother prayed every night for it to be revealed what she had done to deserve that — as if burned potatoes could ever warrant such treatment.
It's not your fault, either, Rihanna — at least, the abuse isn't, but what you do now is your responsibility.
Women can stop domestic violence. I saw my mother do it. The stay-away order should be kept in place, but most importantly, Rihanna should stay away.