Rihanna’s interview with Oprah recently, drew criticism from all corners, and it’s easy to criticize while sitting behind a computer hiding behind relative anonymity. It’s easy to bang out typed pages of criticism and opinion about a situation to which you have no ties. But the Rihanna interview showed that through the criticism she remains true to her roots and continues to grow.
Two of the main themes throughout, and what tied the interview together, were closure and family.
From the death of her grandmother earlier this year, to how she feels happiest at home with her family, she spoke from her heart about how her family is what keeps her grounded, and that closure with her violent father let her forgive the abuse by Chris Brown.
Like many of us who dealt with abuse from a young age, Rihanna’s story began with violence in her home. She described her father's and mother's relationship, stating that her father’s addiction and violence was the reason her family broke up.
She spoke about how not only dealing with abuse, but dealing with it and it’s repercussions in a very public light was “embarrassing” and “humiliating.” “I lost my best friend ... everything I knew switched, in one night.” Anyone who has been in an abusive relationship can tell you that telling anyone about the abuse can be one of the most difficult things to do. Not only because you don’t know how the person will react, but because it’s just plain embarrassing, and can make you feel humiliated. Stuck in that abusive mentality, you think, “There must be something wrong with me if he hits me, right?” You are convinced that you should present the facade of a “perfect” life and that anything less than that is shameful. Now imagine that feeling on a much larger scale. In front of millions of people: fans, commentators, activists, family and friends, who are all trying to get your attention and give advice. It would be overwhelming to say the least!
Rihanna admitted that she often does the same thing, presenting a rock-hard and confident power girl image. When inside she’s been dealing with issues well past her years.
She holds a public position, one that many try and glorify or vilify, claiming that she’s not doing the right thing at the right time. Now, maybe the people giving advice are right. But for someone who has been abused; autonomy, responsibility and self-determination are key. Trying to throw your opinion out and practically forcing it on the abused is one sure way to send them back into the arms of the abuser. So when the next celebrity is very publicly humiliated and shamed by abuse, maybe we should all chill out a little before offering our unsolicited advice. Maybe they don’t need it, maybe they just need a friend.
The only red flag during the interview was when Rihanna stated that she and Brown are working on renewing their friendship. While I commend and applaud her forgiveness of her ex, I’m surprised that she would want to be friends with him. I cannot imagine ever wanting to be friends with my past abuser. The incident with Chris Brown happened back in 2009, and it’s astonishing that so shortly after the abuse she’s back to working on their friendship. It seems strange to me that she would want that, but I do hope that she has safeguards in place through her family and friends, to make sure that he does not manipulate or abuse her again.
After the interview was over I was able to see a much broader picture of the pop star — a much more wholesome, young, and vibrant picture. Only 24, she has a lot of growing and maturing to do. And while this closed chapter in Rihanna’s life might satiate the celebrity gossip in us, it is clear that she has found closure for some of the most traumatic portions of her life, as it not defined by her past relationship with Brown. She is not defined by abuse She is not defined by violence. Instead, her life is being defined by the woman she is becoming — a woman that would make her family proud.