R & B star Rihanna is reportedly back together with singer Chris Brown, risking her life for "love," after he allegedly beat her so badly, anyone who saw her bruised face cringed.
Like many battered women, Rihanna doesn't seem to see the danger in dancing with a violent man who has proven he can't control his destructive impulses. That's because her vision is clouded by passion or naivete or whatever dark chapter of her own life she may be replaying now by "playing with fire."
Rihanna's father has apparently blessed his daughter's decision, saying he's "behind her," whatever she decides. That's not loving your child; it's letting her walk into the abyss, and it may be the best window on why Rihanna can't stand up for herself. Maybe no one ever did-even her dad.
If the allegations about Brown are true, the likelihood that he was "caught" the very first time he abused a woman is remote. More likely, there have been other episodes of uncontrolled rage in his life and that there will be more. Men who abuse women aren't usually one-time offenders. They lack the internal restraint necessary to control their impulses, or they harbor deep resentment toward females (often rooted in experiences and emotions from when they were much younger) or their behavior and judgment is impaired by alcohol or illicit drugs. Very frequently, they have personality disorders, whether narcissistic or paranoid or antisocial. They are entirely focused on their own needs and enraged when they aren't met.
Rihanna proves that she doesn't understand any of this by returning to her relationship with Brown so quickly. There's no possibility that he completed any anger management course or detoxed from any drug he might be on or delved deeply enough into his psyche to exorcise any demons that might have led him to turn his self-hatred into a clenched fist and the terror and tears of woman just 21 years old.
He needs help, and a lot of it. So does she.
What Rihanna is teaching her lover is that her self-esteem is so low, or her need to fix a man so great, that she is willing to risk everything to be by his side. For a man like him, it unconsciously gives him license to strike out at her again. And it actually deprives him of learning that his disorder can cost him things he cares about (if he actually does care about Rihanna at all).
As a forensic psychiatrist, I've testified in murder cases that started out just like this one. Let's hope it doesn't end as badly.
Dr. Keith Ablow is a psychiatry correspondent for FOX News Channel and a New York Times bestselling author. His newest book, "Living the Truth: Transform Your Life through the Power of Insight and Honesty" has launched a new self-help movement. Check out Dr. Ablow's website at
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