Could Beating Up on Chris Brown Hurt Our Daughters?

Yesterday Chris Brown tweeted a picture of the diploma he received after completing a 52-week domestic violence class.

A popular website on Newsweek’s list of “Most Influential Bloggers” posted,

How embarrassing it must be for his mother to have a son who had to be ordered by a judge to complete a domestic violence class…Once an abuser, always an abuser! chris brown still has unresolved, deep-seated mental issues with women (including his own mother). I feel sorry for any female who runs into brown on a bad day. If she thinks a dime store certificate means he has changed his ways, she will find out how wrong she is on that day.”

Though few are as harsh, this isn’t the only person publicly bashing Brown. Browse the comments section of any online story about Chris’s diploma tweet and you’ll get your fill of words like “disgusting,” “creep,” “loser,” “monster,” “coward” and “not forgiven.”

I don’t get it. I mean, I understand the venom one would rightly have towards any man beating up a woman, and I believe the initial outrage and subsequent vilifying of Chris Brown by the media were more than justified. But, we’re talking about a 19-year-old kid who was ordered by a judge to get help with his problem–and he did exactly what he was told. Regarding his progress while on probation, Judge Schnegg said to him in court,

“Out of thousands of probationers, no one has done a better or more consistent job than you have, and I really want to commend you for taking responsibility and for actually working diligently to complete all the things the court has required of you.”

As the mother of four daughters, I am definitely not one to minimize the seriousness of violence against women, but the unwillingness of folks to believe Chris has the potential to learn and change is troubling. I can’t help but worry that the message Chris-bashers are inadvertently sending to young abusers is don’t bother trying to get help managing your anger because if you are violent now, you always will be. That is a dangerous message that can only lead to more women being victimized.

According to a San Jose State University study, there are many factors that contribute to an abuser never reoffending, and one of them is “those who completed the program were significantly less likely to indulge in further domestic violence.” The fact that Chris Brown did complete a domestic violence education program actually is something to celebrate. Whether or not it was appropriate for him to proudly share his accomplishment via the Internet is open to debate. In his own defense, Chris tweeted the following:

Sceptics who don’t believe a violent abuser can be rehabilitated should familiarize themselves with the story of Kevin Powell, whose Huffington Post article on the subject is a must-read:

“…through the years, I have been brutally honest, in my writings and speeches and workshops, in admitting that the sort of abusive male they are describing, the type of man they are fleeing, the kind of man they’ve been getting those restraining orders against–was once me. Between the years 1987 and 1991 I was a very different kind of person, a very different kind of male. During that time frame I assaulted and or threatened four different young women. I was one of those typical American males: hyper-masculine, overly competitive, and drenched in the belief system that I could talk to women any way I felt, treat women any way I felt, with no repercussions whatsoever.

As I sought therapy during and especially after that period, I came to realize that I and other males in this country treated women and girls in this dehumanizing way because somewhere along our journey we were told we could. It may have been in our households; it may have been on our block or in our neighborhoods; it may have been the numerous times these actions were reinforced for us in our favorite music, our favorite television programs, or our favorite films.”  -Kevin Powell

I have always felt like there was one angle in the Chris Brown story that was never really included–that is the degree to which Chris’s own mother abused him. No, wait… Wasn’t it his stepfather who was the violent one? Wasn’t it his mother who was the victim of that violence? Yes, Chris’s mother was a victim of violence. However, by not removing her son from that violent relationship, she repeatedly victimized him, and by staying with and loving a man who hit her, she taught her son that hitters are lovable. No misogynistic hip-hop video or dehumanizing film can send a more powerful message than that.

Chris Brown is not a victimized child anymore, he is a man now who has victimized a woman, and regardless of where he learned the violence he perpetrated against Rihanna, he is responsible for eradicating it from his character and putting a stop to the cycle he was born into.

I applaud the work he’s done so far. I hope he never uses violence or coercion as a means of solving a dispute again. I pray other young people will learn the many valuable lessons his story can teach.

If Chris wins, we all win. Root for him.

9 thoughts on “Could Beating Up on Chris Brown Hurt Our Daughters?


  2. Ms. Cross,

    Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts on this issue. In the beginning I thought it was about Chris Brown, but for me it was really about what he witnessed as a child and how it affected him. It made me think about what I witnessed as a child. My first thought was to thank God that I did not become what I saw and do what Mr. Brown did. My second thought was maybe in some way I did, it just did not show up the way I saw it as a child, but it did show up. I think the real message is that we should, as best we can with what we have, protect our children from domestic violence and violence towards women especially. I’m not sure if my sharing has any value or merit. I know there could be some more detail to my thought, but I still need to sit with my own discovery right now.

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  6. The fact that the recent twitter fight for him went right to sexualizing his anger towards that woman pretty much shows that he still has a very serious problem around women. I felt scared for her reading his tweets and more so scared for his female partners. Its the language bully teens use and its horrifying. He’s teaching a generation of young men who admire him that this is an acceptable way to speak to and think about women.

    1. I wrote this post two years ago when Chris Brown was a KID trying to get HELP and got only HATE from us. I ROOTED for him to change so others who are similarly repeating cycles of the family violence they were raised in have hope, but few (if any) in the media gave him any words of encouragement that might inspire him to grow and learn to manage his anger (a problem he inherited from an abusive stepfather).

      Chris was a kid whose public failure was for some reason eternally unforgivable (though MANY other ADULT domestic abusers (mostly white men) who have gone to jail for spousal abuse have been given a pass by the media and society at large)

      You felt scared for Jenny Johnson? Really? Take a tour of her timeline and you might want to rethink that. She has made a career out of trashing and badgering celebs. It’s her shtick. She isn’t afraid of him…believe that. She got the publicity she was looking for. Oh, and she gets a pass for being a bully. Why is that?

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