Stop Labeling Chris Brown an Abuser!

Janelle Harris
24

Chris Brown on stageOne leg in the case of the most infamous pop royalty love affair gone awry is over. The restraining order levied against Chris Brown after his in-car altercation with former girlfriend Rihanna was lifted on Tuesday, giving the beleaguered R&B Romeo the freedom to speak to his ex, but not harass or annoy her. I doubt that the renewed liberty will lead to any cozy conversations, but it does spell the e-n-d for the sordid story and gives Brown, who’s now 21 and still so young, even more leverage to salvage his reputation and continue his career.

He’s already completed a mandatory year-long domestic violence course and is finishing up his remaining three years of probation and community service. Now, can the rest of us move on and let it go?

Once upon a time, they were the most adorable couple in pop musicdom. But I never believed for one second that Chris Brown was the only person to raise a hand or throw a blow in that car on the evening that spiraled them into Ike and Tina infamy, maybe not even the first. In fact, I can completely see Rihanna being the aggressor, lashing out on him, and his anger escalating into the fury that beat her mercilessly.

That’s because I know all too well that it’s possible for two people to love each other deeply but bring out the absolute worst in one another at the same time. I was around their age when I was head over heels crazy for a guy who made my heart flutter and my blood boil all within the space of a few minutes. It was unhealthy for both parties—and came to a head very similar to the one Chris and Rihanna had the night before the Grammys in 2009.

I haven’t been in a relationship like that since, and it’s why I’m certain that Chris isn’t the loose cannon or slap-happy monster the media packaged him to be, and why there’s no reason to believe he’ll ever end up in a messy situation like this again. He’s too young to be written off as a lost cause.

It’s obvious that the past two years have taught them both a lot—way more than what the average set of college-age kids probably ever learn about relationships—and despite growing up in the spotlight, Chris has matured even more over the last 24 months. Being tangled up in bad media and the legal system at the same time can do that to a guy.

His interviews, like the one on Larry King Live shortly after “the incident,” are more humbled and sincere. And his people have been working overtime to rebuild his image and refocus the public on his talent, not his turmoil. Just this year, he was a hit on Saturday Night Live and nominated for three awards at the 2011 Grammys, proving that two years has put enough space between him and those bad decisions—at least for some people.

Is Chris Brown is always going to wear the scarlet letter as an abuser? And should he?


Image via O.M.Gee/Flickr

Read More