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Author of “Crazy Love” Speaks Out Against Domestic Violence

Here’s what I want to say to everyone who is obsessed with Chris Brown and Rihanna, including Oprah, Dr. Phil, The New York Times, The Washington Post, TMZ, and the other 34 million Google hits on their names:  Thank you!  Shining a spotlight on abusive violence is good for everyone. Abuse is a crime.  If you are being abused, you need help immediately — and you need to end the abusive relationship.  Our society and criminal justice system need to hold abusers responsible for their actions, and stop further abuse.
However, anger at Chris Brown, and the backlash on those who defend him, masks a terrible truth that women and children who have loved abusers know all too well: that most abusers have already been punished, usually by enduring awful abuse during their childhoods, as Chris Brown says he did at the hands of his stepfather. I share the anger at abusers (male and female), but If we oversimplify the dynamics of domestic violence, neither victims nor abusers can ever get the help they need.  To break the cycle of violence, our culture needs to understand more completely how intimate partner violence unfolds and repeats itself.

Batterers are criminals, but they are real people — not villains. We would never fall in love with them, or trust them with our love, in the first place if they were so obviously horrific. I’m not defending batterers — they need to come clean and take responsibility for their actions and their treatment, and you should never stay with an abusive man, no matter how much good you see in him, and how much you feel you love him.  But it’s destructive for our society to paint a batterer in black and white terms.  The hidden message perversely blames the victim: “How could she have fallen in love with such an awful man?”  The truth is far more complex and dangerous.

It was so hard to recognize that I was being abused, and to leave my abusive partner, but I have gotten tremendous solace and support by joining the Million Voices campaign and by sharing my story in my book Crazy Love and a YouTube video. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZEsElsHrvC0

If you want to tell your story, please join The Crazy Love Project, a safe place for people to share stories of surviving abusive love (anonymously if you prefer).

I hope one day we hear Rihanna’s story. And Chris Brown’s. And yours.
Leslie Morgan Steiner
http://www.lesliemorgansteiner.com

National Domestic Violence Hotline Blog

National Domestic Violence Hotline on Larry King Live

Recent coverage of the Chris Brown and Rihanna incident has brought the serious issue of domestic violence into the national spotlight. Many media outlets have been reaching out to the National Domestic Violence Hotline (NDVH) in an effort to bring to light the severity of the issue through use of our statistics and staff commentary on the recent incident.

Victor Rivers and Robin Givens, who are both members of NDVH’s Celebrity Board and spokespeople for the Hotline were recently featured on Tuesday night’s “Larry King Live,” where guest host Joy Behar examined the difficulties in stopping domestic abuse.

Robin Givens, a survivor of domestic abuse at the hands of her former husband, former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson shared her story and provided valuable insight as to what it feels like to experience domestic abuse and how similar the experiences of victims can be.

“I’ve spoken to women every[where]. … Peoria, El Paso. … And what’s amazing is that I find that my story is their story; their story is my story — down to the details.” Givens said. “He dragged me down the hall by my hair. He pulled me out of bed by my panties. He would like to choke me. He would kick.”

Contact information for the Helpline was featured prominently on the program as well. The Hotline answered an estimated 1,463 phone calls on the day of the broadcast resulting in a 90% increase in call volume on that day over the previous year.

Please visit the link below to view a full transcript of the show. The show will also be rebroadcast on Saturday, March 14, 2009.

Transcript from CNN.com