That’s what makes domestic violence, like any number of social ills, a systemic problem.
It traps individuals in a system of factors beyond their control, and holding individuals responsible for those factors is a tactic doomed from the start.
And that misconception inevitably leads to a view of survivors that robs them of their agency: that staying with or returning to an abuser is simply a matter of ignorance, and therefore at least partly on the victim’s shoulders. Rihanna, and millions like her, is perfectly aware that Chris Brown is bad news. And she deserves not to be patronized as if she is.
She said as much in her 2009 interview immediately following the photos’ release, and just as her words weren’t invalidated by her decision to resume the relationship two years ago, they deserve to be part of her image now.
Victims often keep quiet, fearing that if they report another student's aggressive behavior, they will be socially ostracized—or that their parents will confiscate their cell phone or close a Facebook account.
Teens also can have a harder time severing contact with an abuser.
Ed Loos, a junior at Lake Forest High School, said a common reaction among students to Chris Brown's alleged attack on Rihanna goes something like this: "Ha!
She probably did something to provoke it."In Chicago, Sullivan High School sophomore Adeola Matanmi has heard the same."People said, 'I would have punched her around too,' " Matanmi said. "As allegations of battery swirl around the famous couple, experts on domestic violence say the response from teenagers just a few years younger shows the desperate need to educate this age group about dating violence.
While young fans have plastered Rihanna's My Space page with notes of support, many comments on Brown's page express delight at the possibility that he battered a woman.
Kriana Jackson, a sophomore at Sullivan, said it's a sign of a broader culture of acceptance of abuse."There was a girl at school this week with a scratch on her eye," Jackson said.
"This type of education is not happening in any broad or consistent way.
We need to take it to scale, to make sure it's happening in every community."Details of the incident between singers Brown and Rihanna are fuzzy, but the story continues to create much buzz among teens across the Chicago area.
It’s a myth that’s affected Rihanna’s image in particular, perhaps because the public has watched her go through the stages of her relationship with Brown in real time — including leaving and then reuniting with her abuser, an extremely common occurrence that happens an average of seven times over the course of a violent relationship.