Rihanna Interview Inspires Domestic Violence Conversation

Interview inspires conversation about domestic violence.

ByABC News via logo
November 9, 2009, 6:53 AM

Nov. 9, 2009— -- Pop superstar Rihanna spoke out for the first time last week about being violently attacked by former boyfriend Chris Brown. Her words resonated with many viewers, including some who have been victims of domestic violence themselves. They had plenty to say about Rihanna's honesty and the lessons people can learn from her story.

"Rihanna seemed very composed, and I think she seemed sort of more empowered by this experience," viewer Dede Brown said.

Francoise Olivas agreed.

"What she's doing about it is not only raising awareness but ... that pattern needs to be broken, and it's not acceptable," she said.

"When I realized that my selfish decision for love could result into some young girl getting killed, I could not be easy with that part," Rihanna said in an exclusive interview that aired on "Good Morning America" and "20/20."

"I couldn't be held responsible for going back. ... If Chris never hit me again, who is to say that their boyfriend won't?

"Who's to say that they won't kill these girls?" she continued. "And these ... are young girls. And I could not ... I just didn't realize how much of an impact I had on these girls' lives until that happened."

Viewer Jean Sung said she could relate to Rihanna's message.

"I stayed in a relationship with my abuser because he repeatedly threatened to kill himself if I left him," she said. "And I didn't feel like I had any choice. And I think one of the things that I -- I know this is with Rihanna, too, is ... that there's a level of control that something you love can have over you and you don't think of yourself as a victim when you are one."

What hit home for viewer Gabby, who asked that her last name not be used, was Rihanna's speaking about her parents and the abuse she witnessed as a child.

"They had a very abusive relationship. My dad was the abuser," Rihanna said. "[He hit her] on numerous accounts. ... It was like ... I don't want to say normal, but it wasn't a surprise when it happened. She never went to the hospital. ... He broke her nose one time. So she would never go to the hospital. Domestic violence is not something that people want anybody to know."

Domestic Violence Hotline: 800.621.HOPE (4673)

Crime Victims Hotline: 866.689.HELP

Rape, Sexual Assault & Incest Hotline: 212.227.3000

TDD phone number for all hotlines: 866.604.5350

National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline

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