And, in doing so, Rihanna has given us 2.1 million more reasons to respect her.
You’ll no doubt have noticed that your Instagram has been flooded by celebrities “doing their bit” during the coronavirus pandemic. Rihanna’s herculean efforts, however, have gone largely unnoticed by many.
As previously reported by Stylist, the singer and entrepreneur’s Clara Lionel Foundation (CLF) donated $5m (£4.2m) to be split among charitable organisations, including Direct Relief, Feeding America, the International Rescue Committee, Partners in Health, and the World Health Organisation’s Covid-19 Solidarity Response Fund. The money went toward food banks, testing, supplies, and more.
Now, in yet another inspiring move, Rihanna has donated $2.1 million directly to aid domestic violence survivors during coronavirus lockdown.
That’s right: the singer has teamed up with Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey to donate a total of $4.2 million to the Mayor’s Fund for Los Angeles.
According to the CLF website, the money will provide 10 weeks of support for domestic abuse survivors – an increasing number of whom have been turned away at shelters during this lockdown period.
“Today we’re standing with all those affected by increased incidents of domestic violence as a result of the Covid-19 Safer At Home Order in Los Angeles,” a tweet from CLF explained.
It’s an issue which, as many fans will undoubtedly be aware, is incredibly close to Rihanna’s heart: in 2009, she was violently assaulted by her then-boyfriend Chris Brown.
The attack left her with visible facial injuries – including heavy bruising, black eyes, and a split lip. And, 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.
Thankfully, Rihanna was able to seek and obtain the help she needed at that time. In 2020, however, the ongoing coronavirus lockdown has had an unwelcome side-effect: many domestic violence victims have become isolated with their abusers.
As Rolling Stone reports, an estimated 90 people per week have been turned away from shelters in the LA area since the stay-at-home order began. However, the problem isn’t unique to Los Angeles: hotlines around the world have been lighting up with abuse reports.
In Spain, the emergency number for domestic violence received 18% more calls in the first two weeks of lockdown than in the same period a month earlier, reveals The New York Times. The French police, likewise, have reported a nationwide spike of about 30% in domestic violence. And, here in the UK, there has been a 25% rise in phone calls to the National Domestic Abuse Helpline in the lockdown, according to the support charity Refuge.
As such, the United Nations has since called upon all governments to take immediate action in combating the worldwide surge.
“I urge all governments to put women’s safety first as they respond to the pandemic,” Secretary General António Guterres wrote on Twitter.
Here in the UK, Priti Patel has said the Home Office is working with charities to provide an extra £2m for domestic abuse helplines and online support.
She also said victims could “disregard orders to stay at home if they need to seek immediate refuge.”
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 seek help as soon as possible.
If you have suffered from domestic abuse of any kind, visit Refuge for support and information. You can also contact Women’s Aid, or call the 24 Hour Freephone National Domestic Violence Helpline, run by Refuge and Women’s Aid, on 0808 2000 247.