Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Okay Chris, Rihanna: If You Want To Stay Together; Here’s How To Heal

As many of you know, Chris Brown entered a not guilty plea Monday on charges of beating and threatening his girlfriend, Rihanna. While the gossip is “off the chain,” rumor also has it that these two young people still continue an “off-again”, “on-again” relationship—much to the disdain of family and friends. As a dad of a daughter who was in an abusive relationship; I thought I would pull out my couch and offer some advice to these two (and some of you).

Chris, Rihanna:

First of all rumor has it that you are both pretty hot-headed, so this advice is for both of you.

Know That Being Abused Is Not Your Fault. While certain actions may trigger an abuser, their actions are their fault and are inexcusable.

Ask Yourself; Is He or She Worth It?

If You’re Together - Work on a Safety Plan. Look at patterns in your behaviors to figure out when either of you might be explosive or violent. Decide how and where you would go if you had to leave home quickly (and Chris, you should if things get heated).

Remove Yourselves From Harm As Soon As Possible. Until both of you gets help, completes therapy, and a professional says it’s okay to see each other—don’t.

Stop ALL use of alcohol or drugs.

Seek Help For Yourself. Let The Other Person Go Voluntarily. If you have to ask the other person to go, they are not sincere. Alcohol Anonymous says: “Abusive relationships do not change without sustained therapy specifically targeted toward the abusive relationship patterns. These relationships cannot be changed from one side, it takes mutual honesty, openness and willingness from both parties to work through these issues. Group therapy is highly recommended for abusers, as it helps them to break through the denial that is generally a part of the abusive patterns. (People in denial generally recognize their own dysfunctional behavior in others more easily than in themselves.) This applies to the partners of abusers as well - group helps them to break through the denial by seeing the relationship patterns from a wider view.”

Also, many authorities on the subject warn against your attending any type of counseling or therapy together—whatever triggered the abuse in the relationship may be triggered there also.

Some abusers have obtained a measure of success by attending a Batterers Intervention Program (BIPs). BIPs are educational groups that are designed to hold batterers accountable for both their physical violence and other forms of coercive behavior. Anger Management and Marriage Counseling have not netted good results.

Commit To Change For The Rest Of Your Life. Realize, That You Will Never Be Totally Cured. Abuse is about many things…control, insecurity, enabling, and most importantly, poor reactions to stress. It is poor reactions management at a basic level. It is both learned and innate. I want both of you to realize that to change one’s basic reactions is very hard and will take a very long time—probably the rest of your life. While I know you want to stay together, know that the odds of doing so without doing each other harm are against you. Sometimes, the best way to really love someone is to let them go.

And for those of you in the reading audience; how do you feel about this? Do you believe Chris is worth it? How about Rihanna? Do you think Chris or Rihanna will commit to it? Can each of them do it? Do you have any personal advice or stories you would like to share?