Round Table Discussion: Back together. Again…

So news and gossip papers are all atwitter of the reuniting of Rihanna and Chris Brown. Ordinarily, I would say “who gives a damn,” but it brings me screeching to a halt and asking the question… um, did you forget that he choked the hell out of you?!

Granted, its anyone’s guess as to whether or not the incident actually happened or whether or not she provoked a fight that may have gotten out of hand. Promoters and managers are part of the nastier side of mainstream media and will do almost anything (good or bad) to keep their clients in the limelight. But what if it did happen as it went in court?

I’ve known several women in my lifetime that have been abused. I have seen the ones who were able to escape the abuse and I have seen and read plenty about the ones (women and  men) who continue to return to the abuser for a multitude of reasons. But when is enough enough? Can you name a reason why it would feel  ok to go back to someone who abuses you?

I was always taught to respect women and never lay a hand on them, yet in high school and college, I played second fiddle to the “bad boys” and was told I was too nice. What possesses a person to seek out and hold on to someone who clearly doesn’t actually care about them? If they did, they certainly wouldn’t hit, verbally bash, or emotionally abuse them. At least that was the way I was raised, and it’s definitely not allowed by law.

So please, help me understand. I know it’s not ok. Why would someone else? What is the benefit? What makes someone think that the abuser can change? As a member of the military I understand fear factor, but a relationship in the western world is not forced nor expected to be maintained “no matter what,” so what gives?

Comment on your view(s) below and be sure to join us on Wednesday at 9PM EST/6PM PST for #DadsRT chat to discuss the topic live on Twitter using the #DadsRT hashtag.

Image courtesy of Google search and thegospecoalition .org.


The Beginning
About Brandon P. Duncan

Brandon is a dad, husband, US Soldier, and co-founder of Dads Round Table.
When not knee-deep in one of those things, he can often be found tinkering with a woodworking project, writing, drawing, or Photoshopping something... or napping... or he's hurt himself again... or... something...


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  1. I think abuse can extend beyond the physical too. I think mental abuse can sometimes be just as harmful and possibly harder to rid yourself of as physical.
    I’m not sure what goes on in the minds of anyone who is abused but with a sister who experienced some of the emotional abuse, her thought was, ‘I can “fix” him’. She thought she could help and saw some underlying good in him (which I don’t believe exists).

    • Brandon P. Duncan says:

      Oh, absolutely. There’s no doubt that mental and verbal abuse is real. Often times worse, actually, just due to the fact that you cannot see the extent of how bad it actually is.

  2. Fortunately I have very little (if any) experience surrounding this topic. I can hypothesize and assume about the whys and whats, but my fear is doing a disservice to the topic in those attempts. I will say though that I agree with the above comments that mental abuse should be part of this discussion.

    The Rihanna situation bothers me. I have a hard time believing this is a fabricated story and what Chris Brown did was wrong, disgusting, and unforgivable. Provoked or not.

    As men, absolutely nothing gives us the right to lay our hands on women in this manner. Same goes for all adults towards children. You break this code and you are dead to me. There is no second chance for this type of behavior in my eyes.

    • Brandon P. Duncan says:

      You’re right, there is no excuse. For anyone. Man, woman, child… now, that said, I am torn on the spanking issue. Sorry, but when all else fails, I have no issue spatting my kid on the ass. Do I resort to that first? Hell no. Do I think that sometimes kids just need to have their asses busted? YUP. Situation dependent and certainly in context and punishment MUST fit the crime every time.

  3. You harm our women of then you harm our future. A man’s hands should never be raised to harm our future.

    • Brandon P. Duncan says:

      There’s no reason to raise our hands at all, really. My opinion, anyway. Thanks for commenting!

  4. You make some great points here. Spousal abuse occurs all too often, and many times, someone is seriously injured or killed. I think one thing that many people don’t realize, is that the males in the relationship are too the victims. I hate to say it, but the are some vicious abusive women out there. These are the kinds of cases you don’t hear about in the media, but they do happen. What if you were a male and your spouse/wife/partner was abusive?

    • Brandon P. Duncan says:

      We get quarterly (or more often) briefings and training on domestic abuse for work. They tell us all kinds of stories about guys that get abused. It really is a lot more common than people think. The problem is that there is that underlying “machismo” factor in there that makes it harder for men to come forward with it. Same applies to sexual assault. Guys catch a lot of flak if they report that it happens to them from friends and other guys.

      Now, I can say this, one of the more recent stories we were told is that the guy was abused for something like six years before coming forward. Apparently this chick gave this guy regular black eyes, burned his junk with hot hangers and other instruments, poured bleach on him (I’m pretty sure they said it partially blinded him), and a few other nice things.

      Uh. Not a chance in hell would I sit back and let that crap happen. Sure, yes, I am a large guy and not exactly scared of bucking up to someone, but even if I was a 4′ 3″ female that weight 90 lbs, I wouldn’t put up with it. The sonofabitch would have to sleep at some point, no? :)

  5. James Hudyma says:

    I think people are hesitant to discuss abuse because they feel like it is a “personal” problem. If you’ve ever been in a situation where you know the relationship is abusive it’s like the elephant in the room. I think maybe people feel that by confronting the abuser they are also humiliating the victim. Really, I don’t know but am just thinking out loud here.

    To answer your questions, I think it is horribly wrong to abuse anyone, anytime. I also do not believe an abusive person can be changed. I think they can learn to control themselves but their gut is always telling them to control with violence.

    • Brandon P. Duncan says:

      You have some good points. People are hesitant to discuss abuse because they do feel it too personal, especially when they feel it is their fault or they think they can handle it or change people. Also, like it was stated several times in the chat tonight, confrontation is typically too difficult due to the fact of hate or retribution if you are wrong or uncover something.

      It does always crack me up when people think they can change their partner. That happens so rarely. Why would you go into a relationship thinking you can mold the person to be what you want? Craziness.

  6. Abuse is a horrific problem, with many challenges. However, the question is intriguing— “why return to the abuser”, especially in light of the conflicting “you’re too nice” experience some of us have had. I am not offering an answer, but merely opening this for discussion, because frankly it confuses the hell out of me. I wonder: In situations where true control isn’t the issue, does the abusive behaviour represents a deep passion that feels lacking from the too-nice options?

    • Brandon P. Duncan says:

      I’m sure there is some Freudian BS that will tell you that the abusers (and abused) have some sort of deep-seated issue with lack of attention from their father or mother. I don’t play into all that. I feel like (unless you actually have a mental issue, of course) that you can make decisions for yourself. If you didn’t like your dad hitting your mom when you were young, why in hell would you do it as an adult? Sorry, personal accountability and free will teaches me that you can decipher right from wrong regardless of what you were taught.

  7. I will never make excuses for abusers of any kind. EVER!

    That said, thee is an aspect of social understanding and acceptance that is missing from all abusers. They do not understand that it is not their place to control others physically, sexually, emotionally, or other, nor are they able to accept that.

    • Brandon P. Duncan says:

      I can agree with that to a certain extent. Yes, there has to be a switch or genome or something that says violence is ok, but at the same time, these people are typically rational and deep think ways to hide or make excuses for the fact that their actions are wrong. At that point, they lost all sympathy and rationalization from me. They either own up or take what they have coming.

  8. Brandon, in last night’s chat you mentioned something about the media doing our job if they are the ones telling our kids about Rihanna getting back with abusive boyfriend. Then this morning I heard Taylor Swift on the radio and got to thinking about how negatively she is portrayed in the media for, well, something guys are glorified for. Leonardo DiCaprio is a hero in guy circles for the amount of pretty women he has been with, but Taylor Swift is a harlot for doing the same with guys. So the media is basically giving Rihanna a free pass for getting back with her abusive boyfriend, but Taylor Swift is the true evil in society as far as role models for girls go?

    So, to your point, no doubt we have to be the ones talking to our kids about this stuff, because obviously the media has things completely backwards.

    • Brandon P. Duncan says:

      Oh, no doubt. You make some really good points. One thing you have to understand about Taylor though is that she made a name for herself, not for dating so many people, but for writing songs about them after they broke up. She used to be the little “good girl” until she put a few of them on blast in her songs. Now, she is kind of a target and a shining example of BS to watch for to see what she does to or says about “the next one”.

      All that aside, though, you’re right. Trash reporting and TV has taken over and it sucks. Kids need role models more than ever now. Why shouldn’t it be their parents?

  9. Brad, Brandon – One of the best things you can do for young kids is explain “media” to them. Kids need to know that those stories are manufactured and/or hyped to keep our attention for someone’s gain. Sadly, these are real people in uncommon lives, where every move is analyzed in public against impossible standards, but only as long as it creates interest and opens wallets. The easy, familiar plot lines and out-dated stereotypes feed the lowest common social denominator. The hook-up-break-up cycle is all part of the drama, with a publicist drooling over every twist (or possibly behind it). Celebrity is manufactured; advertising is fantasy storytelling. People are fighting for your time and attention.

    I don’t mean to be cynical. I think it’s good to admire artists and those who excel—it’s even fun to celebrate their success with them. But be really careful who we consider a role model or hero; our kids will follow our lead.

  10. “Sadly, these are real people in uncommon lives, where every move is analyzed in public against impossible standards, but only as long as it creates interest and opens wallets. ”

    Phenomenal stuff right there and great comment overall, Stephen. Thanks for your perspective. Our kids definitely follow our lead on such things as role models and when my son lists “Diamonds” as his favorite song (by Rihanna) I know it’s because of me and I know it’s something I need to keep my eye on as he gets to an age where he looks past the songs and to the person singing them.

This is what I think...