Rihanna and Chris Brown Reunion?: Why Domestic Abuse Must Not Be Portrayed as Acceptable

The topic of choice this month for PAVE is Healthy Relationships. While February is almost over I want to continue the conversation considering recent news of Rihanna and Chris Brown collaborating on a remix, “Birthday Cake” and confirmation that they are “rekindling” their relationship after Rihanna was a victim of violent abuse in their previous relationship. While this “rekindling” is sure to get a lot of media coverage, I appreciate the feministing.com post going directly to the bigger issues involved that are more important than the celebrity couple reunion itself.

The post discussed how this would affect the conversation on domestic violence being that a reunion between the two celebrities would be a widely viewed, public affair. As mentioned in the post, this raises concern in part because it is not unlikely for victims to return to their abusers; but what kind of example does this set? Will people use this to cut off a real discussion about domestic violence, and the circumstances and norms that surround the issue because a female celebrity chose to restart a professional and/or personal relationship with her perpetrator?

I want to talk about why this happens. Why do victims of domestic violence return to their abuser? I am aware that their are circumstances that prevent victims from getting out of an abusive relationship, but that does not make the violence okay. I agree with the article that the main point is that even if Rihanna and Chris Brown get back together, domestic abuse is unacceptable with no exceptions. I just hope fans of Rihanna and Chris Brown don’t form the wrong impression about domestic abuse from this.



Shattering the Silence of Sexual Violence in the New Year: FBI’s New and Improved Definition of Rape


The new year is marked with change for the better as we work to improve something about ourselves or the world around us. This time of year made it all the more exciting to hear from Ms. Magazine that the FBI is officially redefining ‘rape.’ Huffington Post explained that the new definition removes ‘forcible’ to broaden the requirement of what is consider rape to include victims who are unable to give consent. The new definition also removes language that requires the victim be a woman.

I have been personally following the Ms. and Feminist Majority Foundation campaign, Rape is Rape: No More Excuses, which was sparked by the discovery that the FBI’s definition of ‘rape’ limited police departments from reporting all rape cases to be represented in federal statistics. Without a broader definition the prevalence and seriousness of rape and sexual violence is not made obvious to the public because it is misreported altering crime trend statistics. An article in The New York Times also pointed out that these inaccurate statistics affect the amount of resources made available to law enforcement and private agencies alike to put towards ending this violence.

This is indefinitely a step towards bringing attention to the devastating prevalence of sexual violence in the United States. With more information brought to the public’s attention there should be an increased awareness and higher demand to work on prevention that will lead to an end of rape and sexual violence!



Thankful for Survivors’ Stories that Shatter the Silence of Sexual Violence

Thanksgiving is this week and I wanted to take a moment to thank survivors of sexual or dating violence who have shared their stories shattering the silence of their suffering and encouraging others to do the same. PAVE introduced “My Stories” to motivate us to share our stories of how we have been affected by sexual and dating violence. “Survivor Stories,” by photographer Teresa Prince, is another project that focuses on the importance of survivors sharing their stories.

“What I really want to do is get their words out there so that victims who are still suffering can read this and realize they are not alone,” said Prince.

Prince’s “Survivor Stories” project is not her first project about sexual assault awareness. Her first project, “Speaking Through Silence: Survivor Stories” shined light on the issue and was a part of her healing as a survivor. With her current project Prince wants to focus on how others made this transition from victim to survivor and to bring hope to other victims still suffering in silence.

Prince’s project combines photography and story collecting to share more than just the words of survivors. Prince explained she wants to give a voice and a face to their experience because that makes the stories real, and these men and women deserve to be heard.

“If we never get a face or a name then this kind of becomes a victimless, faceless crime unless we get the real stories out there,” said Prince, “We cannot ignore it.”

I whole heartedly agree with Prince in the importance of sharing the reality of the many men and women who have been a victim of sexual and dating violence. I am so thankful for the work she is doing and I want to encourage others to share their stories.

We all have a voice and we all deserve to be heard because the world deserves to hear our story.



University Action Taken in Penn State Sexual Assault Scandal, But is it Enough?

Many of you may have received the PAVE Action Alert about the Penn State sexual assault scandal involving a former coach. Many more of you may have heard about the story recently in the news, but how many of us have responded with action to prevent and stop this violence from taking place and going unreported?

Jerry Sandusky, the former football defensive coordinator at Penn State, was charged with several counts of various offenses including sexual assault all involving young men. The Associated Press article, ‘Penn State Ex-Coach Charged in Sexual Abuse Case,’ reported the following:

Sandusky, who worked with at-risk children through his Second Mile organization, was charged with seven counts of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse; eight counts of corruption of minors, eight counts of endangering the welfare of a child, seven counts of indecent assault and other offenses. A preliminary hearing for Sandusky is scheduled for Wednesday.

This article also reported that Tim Curley, the athletic director at Penn State , had lied in his testimony to knowing of Sandusky’s actions according to the grand jury report. Despite these allegations Curley is not being held liable along with other football officials accused of knowing about Sandusky’s assaults by the university. It seemed the university was continuing its Division I football as if nothing unsettling had happened. However, the growing criticism from this scandal did result in the firing of Joe Paterno, the head football coach at Penn State, and Penn State president Graham Spanier. Other than this though, the university has not any other taken action involving other football officials.

A troubling follow up story from the Associated Press reported that John Matko, an alumni of Penn State, received a negative reaction from his protest at the Penn State football game last Saturday. Another article did report that attendees of the football game ‘showed their symbolic support for victims of child abuse’ by buying shirts and donating money to child abuse prevention organizations.

I feel like the university took the least amount of action necessary to avoid an uproar from its students, employees, alumni, and the general public. If this is where the action stops in response to this violence then it is simply not enough. This is something we need to be talking about. Incidents such as these cannot be covered for their shock value and then forgotten when the media moves on to another story. We have to look at what was going on that would allow something like this to take place.

I want university officials along with the media to take responsibility to explore and talk about the issue of sexual violence; especially in that men and women, and boys and girls are at risk.

How can we move forward and turn this into an opportunity to raise awareness, promote bystander efforts, and talk about why there should be zero tolerance for perpetrators of sexual violence?