A lot of women fantasize about having a man kind of obsessed with them. All the attention seems sexy. The aggression is alluring. And the devotion is attractive. The thing is, this daydream tends to lean more on the Cinderella side and doesn’t account for when a man you think is Prince Charming ends being more like Jack Nicholson’s character in The Shining. Welcome to Karrueche Tran’s world. Earlier this month, TMZ revealed that the actress, a former flame of Chris Brown, filed a restraining order against him—and accused the pop star of threatening her life. Even worse, it seems that only a few folks cared. Well, at least in the court of public opinion, Brown seems to be getting a pass… again.
The singer has a history of losing it — Rihanna, cops, Instagram tirades— frankly it’s not okay. I’m not a Chris Brown hater. In fact, I was one of his first fans. I met Brown during the early days of his career even lobbied for him to a cover on the popular teen magazine I worked on back then because I knew he was going to be BIG. Even as a kid, his energy palpable. But he is a man now. And Chris’ behavior is beyond childish. It’s hurtful. It’s erratic. And, at times, it’s criminal. Sadly, Brown isn’t just being given a pass because he is a superstar; his male privilege precedes him in every space he enters. The talented singer isn’t the only male who has used abusive tactics in attempts to make a woman bend to his will. And it’s that misogynistic thinking—paired with unhealthy habits—that have lead him to think he can literally demand, or bully, someone into being with him again because that’s what he wants.
Kudos to Karrueche for doing the work necessary to build her self-esteem to a place where she’s able to distance herself from a physically and mentally abusive partner. Lets be clear, it’s not easy to leave any abusive man but imagine how challenging it is to leave one who is a celebrity. Most folks will think this about money, but abusers, regardless of socioeconomic status, use the same tactics: isolation, financial control, emotional manipulation and verbal abuse.
Karrueche could be anyone’s sister/friend/daughter. You know, the woman every is envious of because she scored the most popular guy in school, at the job or even in city—how lucky. That good fortune quickly runs out once she realizes all of his woo’ing wasn’t ever about her but his desire to have what he wanted at any cost. And it don’t stop.
Don’t praise or pity Karrueche. Protect her, and women like her, who are literally scared for their lives because someone—a man or woman—has decided that what he or she wants is more important that what is right, healthy or even legal.
Here’s how to help:
No One Deserves to Be Tormented. Take stand against bullying and unhealthy behavior in all forms. There is no justification for targeting someone with attention, derisive language and physical abuse. Stop empowering abusers by minimizing or encouraging despicable behavior—whether he or she is famous or not.
Take All Threats Seriously. Look at it like this, when someone makes an abusive or aggressive comment on social media or in a public setting they are basically beating his or her chest to see who will challenge or hold them accountable. They also want to create fear and panic in the victim to ensure she/he feel powerless. Any form of reward—liking a comment or co-signing on a statement—sends a message that those dangerous thoughts are socially acceptable and can embolden an individual.
Encourage Victims to Stay Strong. Love doesn’t always dissipate because the partnership is unhealthy. It’s hard to watch someone you care about spiral out of control and even if you know he or she may hurt you, there is temptation to get closer to “help”— or because you’re missing your ex. Support victims of domestic violence by encouraging them to look ahead and let former partners take the steps necessary to heal via professional help.
Don’t Be Afraid to Speak Up. Silence gives abusers power. If you are in a situation where you are witnessing someone being abused or are even part of a conversation where ignorant comments about how others are/should be treated are being made, take the necessary precautions for your safety—then say something!
S. Tia Brown is lifestyle director at EBONY magazine and is a licensed therapist. Most important, she believes in love and the promise that it gives. Follow her @tiabrowntalks.