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Posted at 12:46 PM ET, 02/ 9/2009

For Chris Brown, a Time to Get Help?

By Liz Kelly

Chris Brown on stage at Madison Square Garden with girlfriend Rihanna in December 2008. (AP)

Chris Brown was arrested over the weekend on suspicion of making a criminal threat (on an as-yet unidentified 19-year-old woman who may or may not be a big star herself). According to the Associated Press, possible domestic battery charges may follow.

If true, one of the saddest parts of this story is Brown's own very recent history as a witness of domestic violence in his childhood home. In 2007 Brown acknowledged his own troubled past:

"I don't want to mention the person's name - it wasn't my real father - but somebody hurt my mom and me, I had to deal with that from seven all the way to 13. It affected me, especially (my behavior) towards women -- I treat them differently. I don't want to put a woman through the same thing that person put my mom through. I was scared and timid when I was little. I used to pee in my bed... I think it was me being nervous, and scared to get up (out of bed) and see what was going on. My mom used to try and hide it from me and my sister, but we knew. Anybody that's going through it, just try to deal with it, talk it out." (Source)

Don't mistake me; I am in no way excusing violence committed on anyone -- man, woman or superstar. I can't even think of one marginally good reason for threatening or striking another person. But study after study has demonstrated that domestic violence is a cycle, a learned behavior that can be hard-wired into a young brain, setting that child up for an adulthood of dysfunction.

According to statistics from the American Psychological Association, 3 million children witness violence in their home each year and, "A child's exposure to the father [or male authority figure] abusing the mother is the strongest risk factor for transmitting violent behavior from one generation to the next." One study (PDF) found that children who witness domestic violence are at risk for a slew of negative behaviors, including higher levels of aggression, lack of conflict resolution skills and "increased tolerance for and use of violence in adult relationships."

What can be done to break the cycle?

According to licensed clinical psychologist Dr. Andrea Bonior, although Brown has been outspoken in his condemnation of domestic violence, awareness isn't always enough to prevent it from "coming back to haunt you." But, she adds, the incident may serve as a good wake-up call for the 19-year-old.

"Staying on top of it with counseling, especially as you start into your own intimate relationships, really can help," says Bonior.

"So many of the things tied up with experiencing abuse -- fear, rage, shame, boundary and trust violations, entangling love with violence, never learning how to resolve conflicts -- get absorbed, especially for a young child, and can be hard to escape or even understand without help."

----

If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline or visit the group's Web site at www.ndvh.org.

By Liz Kelly  | February 9, 2009; 12:46 PM ET
Categories:  Celebrities  
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Next: Morning Mix: Chris Brown Investigation Continues

Comments

Thanks for the public service announcement at the end. Domestic violence is an epidemic in this country. It affects people from all walks of life -- rich, poor, well-educated, high school drop-outs, etc. There are not enough services to help everyone.

As for Chris Brown, the reports are that he and Rihanna got into an argument. Since Mr. Brown witnessed all that violence as a child, the only way he knows how to cope with an argument is to react violently. This is not blaming Rihanna in any way. You are in a relationship, you are going to argue. It should not result in violence. He just didn't know what else to do, so he struck out at her.

The best thing he can do is stop the cycle by getting help now. Then speaking out and educating others on how to stop the cycle.

Posted by: epjd | February 9, 2009 1:33 PM | Report abuse

The sad reality is that the abused often takes the abuse and put that to someone else. Stories from Catholic church for one, Israelis for two and you can just keep naming names.

Posted by: lhao333 | February 9, 2009 1:39 PM | Report abuse

Really sad. Rihanna is very young, very talented, and very beautiful. She deserves better.

Posted by: jdkoenig | February 9, 2009 1:49 PM | Report abuse

To build on what epjd said, experiencing domestic violence can result in deeply ingrained behavior, which unfortunately can be passed on to people who did not experience the violence first-hand. Liz even though Celebritology is generally lighter, thanks for using this teaching moment today. I don't think it should have to wait for Hax on Friday.

Posted by: reddragon1 | February 9, 2009 2:06 PM | Report abuse

And why exactly is the industry "shocked"?
Aren't dysfunctional relationships, drugs, and violence part and parcel of this whole rap/hiphop phenomenon, going on its 25th year?

Posted by: VMR1 | February 9, 2009 2:11 PM | Report abuse

It is shameful for a man or a country to attack the one that is smaller or weaker.

Posted by: scooterlibre | February 9, 2009 2:22 PM | Report abuse

I have to comment that, though a history of domestic violence in the family can lead to repeat episodes (which is an explanation, certainly not an excuse), it need not always be the case. I have been in a loving relationship with my husband for nearly ten years, and he is the product of such a horrible environment -- mom with broken jaw, etc etc etc. My husband certainly has scars, but he has busted his butt to stop the cycle and I have never felt anything but safe with him. Not saying it is easy. His success makes me much less forgiving of people like Chris Brown, regardless background -- and all the more for people like Brown who clearly have a handle on the impact and resources to cope. There is simply no excuse.

Posted by: esmerelda123 | February 9, 2009 2:50 PM | Report abuse

Chris Brown isn't a rapper. He's a singer who's been a celebrity since he was 16 years old. People are surprised because he's always had a very clean cut image.

I get what you're saying about rap and violence; however, I'm not aware of very many rappers who are in the headlines for beating their wives. I can't actually name a single one. Can you?

___________________

And why exactly is the industry "shocked"?
Aren't dysfunctional relationships, drugs, and violence part and parcel of this whole rap/hiphop phenomenon, going on its 25th year?

Posted by: VMR1 | February 9, 2009 2:11 PM

Posted by: bosslady1 | February 9, 2009 2:55 PM | Report abuse

Please let's not make this another reason to spark a debate about what's wrong with Hip Hop.

Domestic violence afflicts people from all walks of life, and has for long before anyone ever knew what "rap" was.

This is heartbreaking news that will hopefully bring more light to this growing problem.

Posted by: naybag | February 9, 2009 3:40 PM | Report abuse

Well put, ep and reddragron. The tragedy of domestic violence touches everyone, even those lucky enough not to have it in their immediate family, because sooner or later one will have neighbors or friends who have suffered its effects, for whom one needs to "be there." I hope Chris Brown gets the help he needs to break the vicious cycle and, as ep said, speak out against domestic violence in order to lead by example.

Posted by: Nosy_Parker | February 9, 2009 3:45 PM | Report abuse

Good job, Liz.

Posted by: earlysun | February 9, 2009 3:46 PM | Report abuse

Why are you all commenting on what Chris Brown should or should not do and you have no idea as to what went on.

Posted by: Dessalines | February 9, 2009 3:52 PM | Report abuse

VMR1 said:
"And why exactly is the industry "shocked"?
Aren't dysfunctional relationships, drugs, and violence part and parcel of this whole rap/hiphop phenomenon, going on its 25th year?"

What a completely ignorant comment. Sadly, dysfunctional relationships, drug and alcohol abuse, and other modes of self-destruction have plagued singers from all genres. I don't know all the facts of this case, but to blame this one thing and apply a "one size fits all" label on an entire music genre is a pathetic way to base an argument. How many countless numbers of pop, country, rap, and rock artists have been subject to drug overdoses, domestic abuse, drugs, mental illnesses, etc...countless numbers. These problems do not discriminate by race, gender, or class. I hope that whatever allegedly happened between Chris Brown and Rihanna is resolved (I am going to presume innocence until I hear otherwise). However, I still annoyed that people (like VMR1) act as though they are experts on things that they know little to nothing about.

Posted by: profyle424 | February 9, 2009 3:59 PM | Report abuse

Good job, Liz.

Posted by: earlysun | February 9, 2009 3:46 PM

Here,here.

Thanks for shining the spotlight on a very real issue.

Posted by: jezebel3 | February 9, 2009 4:33 PM | Report abuse

19 year old Chris Brown allegedly committed a crime. We need to understand as a society that personal responsibility for ones actions is the only cure. Forget blaming rap, R&B, youth or anything else. They aren’t the issue.

When we DEMAND personal responsibility and stop accepting or offering these “woe is me” excuses, the Chris Browns of the world will be deterred from committing crimes: avoiding the CAUSE and EFFECT reality.

Far too many “Chris Browns” are fueled by: “it’s the way I was raised”, “it’s the MAN’S fault”, and other such pacifiers. I say lets get back to personal responsibility. It’s the only thing we can control.

And let’s face it, if this was your daughter or mine, the last thing we’d be talking about is WHY Chris Brown did what he did.

Posted by: mc2k | February 9, 2009 5:39 PM | Report abuse

"Chris Brown was arrested over the weekend on suspicion of making a criminal threat (on an as-yet unidentified 19-year-old woman who may or may not be a big star herself)."

Rihanna is 20 years of age. The editor was a little too excited accusing Brown to get the age correctly.

Posted by: lxhtech | February 9, 2009 6:15 PM | Report abuse

What saddens me about this whole situation is that these are young people. And because of this I hurt for the both of them. With that being said, Chris Brown, no matter his background, knows that a man should never raise his hand to hurt someone, especially a woman, because it will turn out bad.

I have been looking at our websites and they are reporting that Rhianna is seriously hurt and is in the hospital. For Chris Brown to be in spotlight and has the success, that he does, this is setting a very bad example. I believe that they were both too young to be in the kind of relationship they involved themselves. According to sources, they have a history of arguing and fighting with each other. I believe that this one just escalated into a really bad place.

I do also believe that she should have called the police, he is big man, a lot of people I have been talking to...says that she should not have involved the police. I can understand the pain and the fear one has for their life, and maybe this is a wake up call for him. I just don't know. I am shocked by this because we never expect things like this to hit so close to home.

Posted by: precioussmiles23 | February 9, 2009 11:38 PM | Report abuse

Thanks TMZ!!

Posted by: morton727 | February 10, 2009 12:00 AM | Report abuse

yeah, apparently she's beat up pretty good...
we're well past the 'counseling' stage here - and on to the 'this guy is complete trash and should be locked up' portion of the evening.

Ladies - just say no to these guys. They're not good for you, they're not worth wasting effort on, and you can all do a lot better.

Posted by: quintiliusvarus | February 10, 2009 1:50 AM | Report abuse

Dr. Bonior gives great advice. My father used to resolve the small little arguments we all got into with one another by passing gas in our faces. Today, this is my favorite method of problem solving, but my wife with the "sensitive nose" and "manners" doesn't think this solves anything.

Posted by: Mulface | February 10, 2009 3:26 AM | Report abuse

YOU ALL ARE SAYING ALL THESE MEAN THINGS ABOUT CHRIS AND YOU REALLY DON KNOW THE WHOLE STORY. WOMEN ARE NOT ALWAYS INNOCENT. WE SHOULD NOT JUDGE HIM BECAUSE WE WERE NOT THERE TO SEE WAHAT HAPPENED. WE ARE ALL GOING UPON WHAT THAT THE MEDIA IS SAYING WHICH IS A MILLION DIFFERENT THINGS. UNTIL THERE IS ACCURATE EVIDENCE THEN I WILL NOT HAVE NOTHING TO SAY. IF HE DID HIT HER IT WAS FOR A REASON. I STILL TO THIS DAY BELEIVE THAT CHRIS BROWN IS A GOOD GUY AND NOTHING WILL EVER CHANGE THAT. WE ALL MAKE MISTAKES AND SHOULD NOT JUDGE. I PERSONALLY THINK THAT IT IS NOT FAIR THAT WHEN A MAN DO SOMETHING TO A WOMAN THEY EASILY GET LOCKED UP AND WHEN A WOMAN HIT A MAN THEY HAVE TO HAVE PROOF THAT SHE HIT HIM. HIS FANS NEED TO SICK WITH HIM UNTIL WE GET THE TRUTH

Posted by: SHAY3 | February 10, 2009 10:14 AM | Report abuse

Liz, thank you for elevating the conversation.

Posted by: bravegal | February 10, 2009 10:45 AM | Report abuse

There is a huge difference between understanding a situation and making excuses for it.. Chris Brown definitely needs serious help in dealing with this learnt behavior of domestic violence which he has assimilated from his childhood. When the imageries, the experiences sink deep into the Subconscious Mind... simply knowing that it is wrong behavior is not enough to rid one of the habits... this requires very sincere and intense therapy and I truly pray that this is Chris' wake up call and recognize that it may very well be the saving Grace for behavior that could possibly one day result in someone's death. My prayers and best wishes go out to Rihanna and especially to Chris who has been saddled with this horrific cycle of abusive behavior...

Posted by: nerakami | February 10, 2009 10:55 AM | Report abuse

The only thing sad about this whole thing here, is that everyone jumps on the guy. It's as if women are really just pure and innocent and never do anything wrong, and it really amaze me. I grew up seeing some abuse women, my father did it, my brothers did it, my sisters boyfriends did it to them, But I have never abuse women, because I chose not to. So stop using that lame excuse, well he saw it when he was a kid, so he is gonna do the same thing. I have been hearing that crap all my life, I was abused sexually, mentally, verberally and dropped out of school too. But guess what people, I HAD A CHOICE AND I CHOSE TO DO BETTER, So got my education, got married and I raise my children and take care of my wife. And I don't and have never done anything to anyone that was done to me as a child. So stop saying Chris Brown saw it as a child so that's why he did it. You were not there, and your only going by half of what you have hread. Stop forming opinons until you get the full story, everyone is jumping on this young man as if they just know he is some kind of monster, and poor Rihanna is so innecent, rumor also has it she gave him herpes, if this is true, guess what people you can't get rid of it. and if it was you, you just might do the same thing.

Posted by: lucious_muhammad | February 10, 2009 11:42 AM | Report abuse

Why is it that a crime can't be tragic? There are some really heartless, unsympathetic folks weighing in on this situation. As an educator, who loves kids and witnesses the olly of youth on a daily basis, I beleieve I may be looking through a different lens. I see a young woman who has been victimized by someone, whether it was Chris or not, whose aspirations and career path will likely be adversely affected by this event. She will probably not lose any money or endorsements, but she will forever be labeled by this act of abuse. But then, I also see a young 19 year old boy, in Chris, who is in jeopardy of losing his career and all of his dreams because he allowed his passions to overpower his sensibilities. For those of you who are quick to speak of this boy getting what he deserves, can you not see the tragedy in a 19 year old who has immersed himself into his craft and is living his dream, losing it all in one fell swoop? You may not see it, but as one who cares deeply for children, I do see it. Though he is not the "victim" in this case, it is not wrong to feel badly for him. His life has been potentially ruined before it ever even began. Neither of their lives will ever be the same after this. To me, a parent and an educator, that is the definition of tragic.

Posted by: NYinGburg | February 10, 2009 12:35 PM | Report abuse

AYE BRA DIS YA GURL MIRANDA CHEK DIS OUT IF I WUZ BROWN I WOULDA WHOOPED DAT @** SHE AINT HAVE NO BZNESS GIVIN MY BABII A DANG STD IDK WATS WRONG WIT DAT H03 BUT NOW I GOT MY MANN ON LOCK aka LD CUZ HE WAZ CHEATEN ON HA WIT ME BUT IMA GET ON HERZ 2 LOLZ HAHA DEAD SERIOUS SHE MUHH DAWG BUT WHY SHE HAD 2 GIVE MY MANN DAT NOW I COULD HAVE 1 BUT I DONT I GOT CHECKED BUT YEA ILL HOLLA AT YA L8R LOVE ALWAYZ MI-MI aka LIL R3D aka MZ.BROWN

Posted by: dopeboidime386 | February 10, 2009 2:08 PM | Report abuse

Chris Brown nor Rhianna are hip-hop stars... They are R & B artists not rappers. So normally they wouldn't be associated with the image and behavior that many hip-hop artists dispay by keepin' it real.

Posted by: tcbuva | February 10, 2009 4:27 PM | Report abuse

Dating abuse affects1 in 3 teens nationwide. Break the Cycle (www.breakthecycle.org), the nation’s leading teen dating violence prevention organization believes everyone has the right to a safe and healthy relationship. To learn more, visit their online community, thesafespace.org—the most comprehensive online resource for teens and young adults to learn about dating violence and find help.

Posted by: thesafespace | February 10, 2009 9:07 PM | Report abuse

Chris Brown is presumed innocent until proven guilty. That is the American way. We don’t know the total facts yet. It is far to early yet to convict him in our minds. Chris Brown will be afforded the opportunity to present his defenses to the allegations against him and he should be given due process under the law just like every other American. There are at least two sides to a story. We don’t know what his side is yet. Thus, it would probably be wise to hold off on judging him until we get more details. It seems (from the media reports) that Rihanna is the victim, and that she had bruises. We don’t know and were not eye witnesses as to how she got the bruises. I have not seen nor heard any evidence that proves to me that he caused her bruises. There are numerous issues in this case which need to be explored. The bottom-line is Rihanna (assuming she is the victim) should be afforded the opportunity to present her case, and Chris Brown should likewise be able to present his case.

Additionally, it should be examined whether Chris Brown and or Rihanna had alcoholic beverages prior to the incident in question and if so who served the alcohol to these young people. If alcohol was served, the affect the alcohol had on both Rihanna’s and Chris Brown’s behavior and state of mind should be examined.

Posted by: yourfriend | February 11, 2009 2:59 AM | Report abuse

People are making a alot of assumptions with very little information, which appears to be par for the course these days. Furthermore, getting into a argument and getting physical with your mate one time is not a history of domestic violence. No where has it been mentioned that she has been battered before so to make a broad sweeping statement is improper. I do not excuse his behavior but let us get all of the facts before we try to send him to counseling and label him as a monster.

Posted by: getalife3 | February 11, 2009 4:25 AM | Report abuse

I like how Dr. Bonior points out that simply having "awareness" of a problem isn't enough. You have to take action. And the best sort of "action" for someone like Brown would be getting professional counseling.

Posted by: GerdTopsnic | February 11, 2009 10:27 AM | Report abuse

everybody is sittin here judging him calling him a woman beater, for all i know he aint do enough. man or woman, if your big enough to put your hands on somebody then your big enough to get knocked around like he did her. but yeah it was wrong. but they said rihanna was hitting him in his face and private parts and made him crash his car, i would smacked her around to. this gives Chris no reason to put his hands on a female but there is only so much a person can take. Now he is loosing business, with the double mint and got milk comercial, and they are talking about not playing his music on radios, i think that is crazy they dont do that to artist doing drugs, buying guns, talking about sexual activities and other things. Chris makes one mistake and people are taking it to the third. Rihanna just needs to quit messing with him if she feels that he shouldnt of did it.

Posted by: tookeybear718 | February 11, 2009 11:02 AM | Report abuse

I'm deeply disgusted by the massive blame being put on Rihanna and people(the people in the streets)'s and gossip sites' ardent efforts to blame this incident on Rihanna with rumors of an STD and whatnot, which makes absolutely no sense (why on earth would it be addressed during a ride home from a party?) given other much more credible accounts regarding the incident.

Brown's/Rihanna's PR teams' general silence and unsuccessful "traffic incident" PR excuse speaks: Brown badly obviously hurt Rihanna in a moment of stupidity.

Under any circumstances, the lack of sympathy for the singer(the obvious victim)-especially among youth, women and black fans of chris brown-I have witnessed recently is appalling. I know from experience with two close friends that very sweet guys exposed to abuse in the past often snap in the most trivial, stressful situations.

On another note, it's awesome how the irrational illiterates above who stopped school in the 4th grade are generally beingignored, despite their misfortunate access to computers. Bravo! keep the (mainstream/news-y) blogosphere smart!

Posted by: jaymac1 | February 11, 2009 11:25 AM | Report abuse

I'm deeply disgusted by the massive blame being put on Rihanna and people(the people in the streets)'s and gossip sites' ardent efforts to blame this incident on Rihanna with rumors of an STD and whatnot, which makes absolutely no sense (why on earth would it be addressed during a ride home from a party?) given other much more credible accounts regarding the incident.

Brown's/Rihanna's PR teams' general silence and unsuccessful "traffic incident" PR excuse speaks: Brown badly obviously hurt Rihanna in a moment of stupidity.

Under any circumstances, the lack of sympathy for the singer(the obvious victim)-especially among youth, women and fans of chris brown-I have witnessed recently is appalling. I know from experience with two close friends that very sweet guys exposed to abuse in the past often snap in the most trivial, stressful situations.

On another note, it's awesome how the irrational illiterates above who stopped school in the 4th grade are generally beingignored, despite their misfortunate access to computers. Bravo! keep the (mainstream/news-y) blogosphere smart!

Posted by: jaymac1 | February 11, 2009 11:27 AM | Report abuse

WOW!! I DIDN'T KNOW PEOPLE REALLY GOT INTO IT LIKE THIS.. HAHA BUT WHERE HAVE I BEEN RIGHT.. ANYHOW.. IM NOT REALLY GOING TO SPEAK ABOUT THE WHOLE THING, BECAUSE IM THE KIND OF PERSON WHO DOESNT REALLY TAKE THINGS LIKE THIS CHRIS BROWN SITUATION INTO CONSIDERATION UNLESS I KNOW 100% FOR SURE ITS TRUE. I GUESS YOU COULD CALL IT NOT BEING GULLIBLE. IT'S JUST CRAZY HOW PEOPLE OR THE PRESS, NEWS MEDIA WATEVER COME UP WITH SO MANY RUMORS (I GUESS YOU WOULD CALL IT) WHEN THEY CAN'T GET ALL THE FACTS ABOUT SOMETHING. AND IM NOT JUST SAYING THIS, IT HAS HAPPENED MANY TIMES, THE INTERNET AND TV ARE NOT ALWAYS RELIABLE, BECAUSE THEY ARE BOTH MADE UP OF PEOPLE, PEOPLE WHO WANT TO GET A SHOCKING STORY OUT THERE SO BAD, THEIR WILLING TO INPUT THEIR OWN THOUGHTS INTO STORIES FAR ENOUGH, WHERE US PEOPLE START TO BELIEVE IT. SOO BASICALLY UNTIL I SEE A VIDEO OF WHAT HAPPENED, OR CHRIS BROWN OR "RIHANNA" SHOWS UP ON TV OR THE INTERNET TALKING ABOUT THE STORY THEMSELVES, THEN ITS JUST HEARSAY TO MEE..

Posted by: jazminebrokaw | February 13, 2009 6:40 AM | Report abuse

I am very upset that we as people are allowing ourselves to believe everything that we read or hear about this young man. No one other then Rihanna and Chris Brown were there. We may never know the true story. I would also like to say that we as woman can be very vindictive and I have seen first hand, woman that will lie to ruin the reputation of a man that does not return their love. I have also seen very abusive woman. I am by no means condoning any violent act against a woman but at the same time I do not condone any violent act against a man. This whole story has gotten out of control to the point of it being ridiculous! It has also been my experience that when the DA starts wanting more evidence it is generally because there is something conflicting in the victims story, basically something is not adding up. I see that just from what I am reading and hearing, something is not adding up. I also see that this is now being turned into a racial issue, so for the record I am an educated, well rounded middle class white woman and I do not buy the story that the media is selling me right now. Back off this poor kid and allow him to be judged in the proper way, not like this because it's not fair!!

Posted by: MikeNGina25 | February 14, 2009 12:23 AM | Report abuse

SHAY3, how ignorant do you have to be? HE TURNED HIMSELF IN!!!! HE did it what other part of the story do you need?Making excuses for him does not make domestic violence go away. In fact its how people have gotten away with it for years.

Posted by: lrm17 | February 16, 2009 11:30 AM | Report abuse

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