Rihanna/Chris Brown

Feb 27, 2009

On February 8, singer/songwriter Chris Brown turned himself in to Los Angeles police after allegedly assaulting his longtime partner, Grammy Award winning singer Robyn Rihanna Fenty, better known as Rihanna. The alleged assault occurred the night before Brown and Rihanna were scheduled to perform at the Grammy Awards. When police arrived on the scene, Brown had left and Rihanna was suffering from visible injuries. Brown was arrested on felony criminal threat charges.

Rihanna has not spoken publicly since the assault, but her father, Ronald Fenty, has generally confirmed reports of the incident and said his daughter will speak publicly at some point.

In the past, Brown had talked openly about the trauma he experienced growing up in a home with domestic violence. After the February 8 incident, he issued a statement that said, in part, “Words cannot begin to express how sorry and saddened I am over what transpired,” adding that many of the reports have been inaccurate. He said he was seeking counseling and was committed to “emerging a better person.”

“As we extend our support and sympathy to Rihanna, let’s remember that there are victims of dating and domestic violence in all our communities who need help as well,” said Family Violence Prevention Fund President Esta Soler. “There are many unanswered questions here, and certainly Chris Brown is entitled to the same presumption of innocence as anyone else charged with a crime. But there are principles that should guide our response. Violence is never acceptable. Nothing a victim does, and nothing in a perpetrator’s background, ever justifies violence. Those who commit violence must be held accountable. Victims of violence need and deserve protection, support and privacy.”

Noting that Brown grew up in a home in which there was violence, she added: “Like so many children in similar situations, Brown needed professional intervention. If the allegations are true and he committed this assault, we have to assume that he did not get the help he needed. That is true for millions of children growing up in homes in which violence occurs. We must do better. The conversation this assault has launched, on blogs and entertainment websites, is a stark reminder of the urgent need for education and prevention.” She urged more interventions for children at risk for domestic violence; more work to teach the next generation that violence is wrong; more programs to train teachers, health care providers and other potential interveners to intervene effectively; and funding for new programs in the Violence Against Women Act that offer hope for preventing violence before it begins.

A graphic photo, reportedly of Rihanna with visible facial injuries was leaked to an entertainment website and has now been posted widely on the internet. Many domestic violence experts have noted that this is a gross violation of her privacy. The Los Angeles Police Department has launched an investigation and said in a statement that it takes “seriously [our] duty to maintain the confidentiality of victims of domestic violence.” The person who released the photo could be terminated or penalized in another way.

Brown, 19, and Rihanna, 21, have been dating for more than a year. Brown is due in court on March 5 and additional charges may be filed.

In partnership with the Advertising Council, the FVPF has launched That’s Not Cool, a new campaign designed to help start a conversation among teens so they will connect the dots and recognize when controlling behavior becomes abuse. Learn more at

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