The International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women is on Friday 25th November. This is a day to raise awareness for violence against women and to bolster the spread of information regarding preventative measures.
One in three women throughout the world have experienced sexual or physical abuse, perpetrated on the most part by an intimate partner. This continues to be a global epidemic. Many women who have personally encountered abuse are too afraid to speak up, the result being a multitude of both emotional and physical consequences.
Some of the very women we look up to today, who are seen in the limelight and the flashing lights, have been victims of domestic abuse themselves. These celebrities have taken to the world stage to tell their stories and raise awareness to help prevent other cases and to encourage ongoing sufferers to speak up and get the help they need.
Perhaps the most widely-known celebrity case of abuse against women in the 21st century is that of Rihanna and Chris Brown. In 2009, Chris Brown and Rihanna got into a heated argument in Brown’s car after attending a pre-Grammy party. After Rihanna threw Brown’s Lamborghini keys out the window, it was said that he responded by choking and threatening to kill her until she lost consciousness. He then left her on the side of the street. The police were called by a neighbour and after having photos taken of her swollen, bruised and bloodied face, Rihanna made a statement against Chris Brown. Brown was arrested but later released on a fifty thousand dollar bail.
It is said that the domestic violence was ongoing throughout their relationship, with friends of Rihanna having noticed bruises and marks across the singers back. After the case reached court, Brown was sentenced to 5 years’ probation, which ended in March 2015, and 6 months of community service. To this day, he still continues to receive a public backlash for his actions even after the pair reunited for a brief period between 2012 and 2013. Rihanna stated in an interview with Vanity Fair, “sometimes you just have to walk away”, which is what she eventually worked up the courage to do.
Another well-known, if not slightly older, case is that of the ‘deadly relationship’ between Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown. Houston told the world that what doomed them as a couple was the year The Bodyguard was released in 1992, which became a huge hit, saying: “Something happens to a man when a woman has that much fame.” Throughout the continuing years, Brown and Houston started to abuse drugs and in the mid-2000s led to Houston enduring rounds of rehab.
By 2003, Houston and Brown’s domestic abuse had entered into the physical realm and the police had been called to a domestic violence case in the couples Georgia home, meeting Houston with cuts and bruises to her cheek and lip. Brown subsequently handed himself in, but the abuse continued throughout the years. This wasn’t just physical but became emotional too, with Brown pressuring and manipulating Houston to perform certain concerts for his own personal gain. His drinking habits worsened, which played a major contribution to Houston’s decline as she began to be seen as incoherent and wobbly at many of her live performances and public appearances. Unfortunately, Houston died on 11th February 2012 due ‘accidental drowning’, but drug abuse and a serious heart condition contributed to her untimely death also.
These are just two of hundreds of examples of female celebrities whose stories have been shared worldwide following their own personal experience of abuse. Some of the other women who have spoken out include: Mariah Carey, Halle Berry, Nigella Lawson, Madonna, Pamela Anderson, Kim Kardashian and, tragically, many more.
Domestic violence happens to women everyday and everywhere but many victims are too afraid to speak up and get the help that they so desperately need. This abuse, physical and/or emotional, is a criminal offence and can be completely life altering for those involved. You can do your part by continuing to raise awareness of any form of abuse. Speak up, speak out and help stop domestic violence all around the world.