A reader tipped us to this Chicago Tribune article, wherein teenage girls claim that not only are they not surprised by the violent attack Rihanna has suffered, but they actually blame her for her injuries.
Adeola Matanmi, a high school sophomore, says she's heard plenty of people placing the blame on Rihanna. "People said, 'I would have punched her around too,' " she says, "And these were girls!" Kriana Jackson, also a sophomore, admits that her peers tend to make light of serious situations as well: "There was a girl at school this week with a scratch on her eye," Jackson says, "She was talking openly about her boyfriend hitting her, but she was smiling and saying it was funny."
A lack of education and proper information regarding the signs of abuse may be to blame for the rise in abuse in romantic relationships amongst teens. As Esta Soler, president of the Family Violence Prevention Fund, notes, "This incident has brought the issue into sharp focus. This type of education is not happening in any broad or consistent way. We need to take it to scale, to make sure it's happening in every community."
In Chicago, the group Between Friends seeks to educate teens to recognize the signs of unhealthy relationships: "When we first get there, it's not unusual for kids-both boys and girls-to say it's OK to hit your girlfriend or boyfriend," says director Kathy Doherty,"By the time we're done, they say, yes, it is abuse, and, no, we shouldn't do that."
Even if teens are able to recognize the signs of an unhealthy relationship, they may downplay them or turn the blame on themselves, as escaping from said relationships is extremely difficult when one has to attend the same school with their abuser on a daily basis. The rise of text messaging, cell phones, and constant communication also makes it easy for abusers to retain tight emotional control over their victims. The difficulty lies in teaching teens to recognize the difference between love and obsession. It's a tough lesson to learn for many young people embarking on their first serious relationship: the notion that "this is just how things are" is something that needs to be broken down and disproved. If we don't teach children how to recognize unhealthy relationships, they might not realize when they are in one, or know how to get out.
Many Teens Blame Rihanna, Say Dating Violence Normal [Chicago Tribune]