Chris Brown tried to excuse his violent attack on Rihanna, and it’s not OK

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Kayleigh Dray
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Chris Brown has spoken about his violent assault on Rihanna – yet despite claiming that he felt like a “monster” after attacking her in his car in 2009, he has pitifully attempted to excuse his actions by pushing the blame onto his ex-girlfriend, describing the attack as a “fight” and saying he was trying to “resolve the situation”.

But speaking to, a women’s violence charity has denounced the idea that a victim could be to blame, stating in no uncertain terms that “domestic violence does not ‘take two’.”

Appearing in a new documentary, Brown claimed that he and Rihanna had been arguing about another woman.

“She starts going off, she throws the phone, ‘I hate you!’, whatever, whatever, she starts hitting me, we’re in a little Lamborghini, you know she’s fighting me,” said Brown.

“Like I remember she tried to kick me, just like her beating s**t, but then I really hit her. With a closed fist, like I punched her, and it busted her lip, and when I saw it I was in shock, I was ‘F**k, why did I hit her like that?’

“So from there she’s… spitting blood in my face, it raised me even more. It’s a real fight in the car, and we driving in the street.”

In the film, titled Chris Brown: Welcome to my Life, Brown continued: “She grabbed my nuts. And when she did that, I bite her arm while I’m still trying to drive.”

He goes on to claim: “I'm just trying to resolve the situation, I'm not trying to fight.

“[But Rihanna] takes the keys out of the car... and fakes it like she throws them out of the window.

“I get out the car and I'm looking for the keys and somebody yelled and she yells out her door, ‘Help, he’s trying to kill me.’”

Speaking about the aftermath of the incident, Brown said: “She hated me. After that, I tried everything. She didn't care, she just didn't trust me after that.

“From there, it just went downhill because it would be fights, it would be verbal fights, physical fights as well. Mutual sides, it is the first time I get to say anything.”

The 2009 assault (which occurred shortly after a pre-Grammy Awards party) left Rihanna with visible facial injuries – including heavy bruising, black eyes, and a split lip.

Speaking to Diane Sawyer on 20/20, Rihanna said that Brown punched her and bit her repeatedly, that he threatened to kill her and that she “fended him off with my feet… but it was not, like, it was not like a fight with each other”. She said that she was also choked – not to the point of unconsciousness, although she did have trouble breathing.

“All I kept thinking was, ‘When is it going to stop?’” she said of the escalating violence.

After being dumped out of the car by Brown, the singer staggered down the road in her couture gown, bleeding, until a passer-by called an ambulance. She was taken to hospital and treated for the wounds he had inflicted upon her.

Brown turned himself in to the Los Angeles Police Department and received five years probation and a community service order for the assault.

While the R&B singer has attempted to excuse his actions on a number of occasions, Rihanna has – like so many victims of domestic violence – been treated abhorrently by the world’s press.

Speaking to Vanity Fair in 2015, Rihanna explained that she has been blamed over and over again. And the media’s loaded questions – why did she stay? Why did she go back to him? How could she be so stupid? – put the onus on her. Forced to relay the incident over and over again, she was left feeling as if she was being “punished” for Brown’s crimes in his stead.

“I just never understood that, like how the victim gets punished over and over,” said Rihanna. “It’s in the past, and I don’t want to say ‘Get over it,’ because it’s a very serious thing that is still relevant; it’s still real.

“A lot of women, a lot of young girls, are still going through it. A lot of young boys too. It’s not a subject to sweep under the rug, so I can’t just dismiss it like it wasn’t anything, or I don’t take it seriously.

“But, for me, and anyone who’s been a victim of domestic abuse, nobody wants to even remember it. Nobody even wants to admit it. So to talk about it and say it once, much less 200 times, is like… I have to be punished for it? It didn’t sit well with me.”

Rihanna went on to imply that their relationship had always been toxic, explaining that Brown began to see her as “the enemy” – and treated her as such.

“You realise after a while that in that situation, you're the enemy,” she said. “You want the best for them, but if you remind them of their failures, or if you remind them of bad moments in their life, or even if you say I'm willing to put up with something, they think less of you – because they know you don't deserve what they're going to give.

“And if you put up with it, maybe you are agreeing that you [deserve] this, and that's when I finally had to say, ‘Uh oh, I was stupid thinking I was built for this.’”

Addressing Brown’s attempts to excuse his abusive behaviour, Sandra Horley CBE, chief executive of Refuge, said: “Whatever goes wrong in a relationship, no man has a right to hit his partner. We all say and do things we later regret, but domestic violence does not ‘take two’.

“No woman can make a man hit her; violence is a choice he makes and he alone is responsible for it. Blaming the victim is another way perpetrators maintain control over their victims – it shifts the responsibility to the woman.

“Manipulating her into thinking she is responsible is a ploy abusers use to deflect from their violent and controlling behaviour. Hitting a woman is never acceptable behaviour – it is against the law.”

There are many forms of abuse – and it is not always physical. Warning signs can include (but are not limited to) the following:

  • Your partner constantly criticises, humiliates or belittles you
  • Your partner checks up on you or follows you
  • Your partner tries to keep you from seeing your friends or family
  • Your partner has prevented you or made it hard for you to continue studying or going to work
  • Your partner unjustly accuses you of flirting or having affairs with others
  • Your partner has forced you to do something that you really did not want to do
  • Your partner has deliberately destroyed any of your possessions
  • You have changed your behaviour because you are afraid of what your partner might do or say to you
  • Your partner controls your finances
  • Your partner talks down to you
  • Your partner has strong opinions on what you should wear and your appearance
  • Your partner has tried to prevent you from leaving your house
  • Your partner has forced you or harassed you into performing a sexual act
  • Your partner has threatened to reveal or publish private information
  • Your partner threatens to hurt him or herself if you leave them
  • Your partner witholds medication from you
  • Your partner makes you feel guilty all the time
  • Your partner blames you for their bad moods and outbursts
  • You are afraid of your partner

If you are worried that you might be the victim of abuse, it’s quite likely that you are. If these signs of an abusive relationship sound all too familiar to you, then get out of that situation as soon as possible.

If you have suffered from domestic abuse of any kind, visit for support and information.You can also contact Woman’s Aid here, or call the 24 Hour Freephone National Domestic Violence Helpline, run in sponsored_longform between Refuge and Women’s Aid, on 0808 2000 247.

Images: Rex Features


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Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is Stylist’s digital editor-at-large. Her specialist topics include comic books, films, TV and feminism. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends.