Reports: Chris Brown says Rihanna hit him first; they’re back together

[Late note: According to the various sources, Chris Brown and Rihanna are now back together–to learn more, click here.–GS]

From Chris Brown was just defending himself (, 2/26/09):

Chris Brown will reportedly plead self-defense in his court case, claiming Rihanna attacked him.

The 19-year-old singer – who has allegedly been accused of beating his ex-girlfriend earlier this month – is waiting to hear if the charges will be brought to court and is set to accuse Rihanna of starting the altercation on February 7.

A source told Life and Style Weekly magazine: “Chris is already building his case. He’s saying she threw a phone at him, then hit him in the head and basically just lost it. He’s saying she attacked him’…

Rihanna is yet to file charges against him, and is said to still be deeply traumatized by the alleged assault.

Certainly Brown may be lying here and trying to deflect his guilt onto Rihanna. However, it’s quite  possible that what he said is true. Research shows in general that this type of incident–reciprocal violence–is much more common than the stereotypical “man beats up woman” incident. If his claim is true, it’s still wrong of him to inflict those injuries on her, but she shares blame, too.

As far as substantiating Brown’s argument, the New York Daily News quoted a couple of alleged insiders who said “Rihanna is temperamental, too…They’re both too hot-headed for their own good” and “It didn’t help that Rihanna grabbed the keys out of his rented Lamborghini and threw them down the street. She knew it would really infuriate Chris, and it worked.” This is questionable, of course — I haven’t seen any solid evidence that Rihanna did anything wrong.

I’ve discussed the incident on several radio shows recently , including Rover’s Morning Glory radio show in Cleveland (click here), the nationally-syndicated Lars Larson Show and on Jeff Styles’ show on WGOW FM 102.3 in Chattanooga, Tennessee. On the latter I was paired against a Tennessee domestic violence advocate. When Styles asked her what she thought of my views on men and domestic violence, she pleasantly surprised me by saying that men face domestic violence too and need DV-related services.

One thing I emphasized is that too often we think of domestic violence as a man and a woman in a kitchen turned into a boxing ring. In that situation, the man has a clear advantage, no question. However, research shows that women are more likely to use weapons or the element of surprise. If you live with someone, there’s an endless amount of opportunities to harm that person, regardless of the target’s superior strength.

Since we were in Tennessee, I mentioned the case of singer-turned reverend Al Green as an example. According to VH1:

“At the height of his popularity, Green’s former girlfriend, Mrs. Mary Woodson, broke into his Memphis home in October 1974 and poured boiling grits on the singer as he was bathing, inflicting second-degree burns on his back, stomach and arm…Green interpreted the violent incident as a sign from God that he should enter the ministry.”

Styles is clearly sympathetic to the feminist point of view, including promoting a local production of Eve Ensler’s anti-male Vagina Monologues. However, to his credit he treated the issue of men & domestic violence very even-handedly. He also said that whenever the issue of divorce and child custody comes up, he’s flooded with letters from fathers who feel they’re being treated unfairly. Imagine that…

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