For the first time since the news of her assault at the hands of then-boyfriend Chris Brown broke last February, singer Rihanna will speak out about her experience. According to excerpts of an interview released today, she will send the message that she is a confident young woman who was nevertheless the victim of something that “can happen to anyone.”
Since the assault was splattered across every media outlet last winter, Chris Brown has been extremely public about his role – first “apologizing” and then attempting to defend himself. But Rihanna has been silent, and has instead been the subject of endless speculation about whether the assault was her fault. Now she will appear on The Today Show this Thursday, on 20/20 this Friday, and be featured in the December issue of Glamour.
In addition to talking about the assault itself, Rihanna will speak about how it felt to suddenly be part of a media circus. “I went to sleep as Rihanna and woke up as Britney Spears,” she said. “That was the level of media chaos that happened the next day. It was like, ‘What, there are helicopters circling my house? There are 100 people in my cul-de-sac? What do you mean, I can’t go back home?’”
Rihanna expounds upon this honest description of what it must be like to have such a personal and painful experience splashed across every magazine cover and TV screen, talking about how it felt to have the photo of her face after the assault leaked to the media. She felt “completely taken advantage of … I felt like people were making it into a fun topic on the Internet, and it’s my life. I was disappointed, especially when I found out the photo was [supposedly leaked by] two women. … That is not a photo you would show to anybody.”
I’m not sure what Rihanna means by the comment about “two women” leaking her photo – nobody should have made that photo public, regardless of their gender – but this is an unusually honest discussion of the betrayal that Rihanna must have felt. To be a young woman dealing with domestic assault is bad enough, but to make matters worse, for months she was the subject of constant speculation about her own role in this terrible incident. How anyone expected her to deal with this when it was made such a public issue is anybody’s guess – and I’m glad that she is indicting the media for its role in making this painful experience into a public spectacle.
She also seems willing to make herself into a role model for other women who may be afraid to get help for domestic assault. She told Glamour, “Domestic violence is a big secret. No kid goes around and lets people know their parents fight. Teenage girls can’t tell their parents that their boyfriend beat them up. You don’t dare let your neighbor know that you fight. It’s one of the things we [women] will hide, because it’s embarrassing. My story was broadcast all over the world for people to see, and they have followed every step of my recovery.”
I don’t have anything to say to this, except right-on, Rihanna! I’m glad that she’s taken her time to speak out and that now she’s sending an amazing message to young women everywhere. And hopefully the next time something like this happens to a celebrity (particularly one as young as Rihanna, who is only 21), the tabloids and media outlets will leave her alone and allow her to work through things privately, with the help of friends and family.
Photo courtesy of PicasaWeb.