Rihanna, Chris Brown, the British, and my downstairs neighbor

Lots of celebrity watching tongues a waggin' about the reported reconciliation between Rihanna and Chris Brown. I don't watch television, but even in my brief scanning through channels, I have managed to pick up that both The View and Oprah have had shows talking about the event. For those who don't know or haven't heard, Rihanna (a very young pop star) and Chris Brown (a very young rapper/pop star) are dating and following some award show in February, Chris beat the living shit out of Rihanna. Allegedly. He was arrested, and like many allegedly abused women, Rihanna has returned to her abuser. Everyone has advice for her. I hope she's listening. There are lessons to be learned here.

On the heels of that, comes this--a scathing indictment of male privilege in Britian (read: and the rest of the western world).

Whoa. Let's review the content of this study.

One in seven British men people surveyed indicated it is acceptable for a man to hit his spouse/girlfriend for wearing revealing clothing in public or for "constantly nagging or moaning at him". Ladies, you might want to cancel that pool membership/beach vacation this summer and for God's sake, don't ask him to empty the garbage.

One in ten people surveyed indicated that it is acceptable for a man to slap his spouse/girlfriend for flirting with another man. Ladies, no more charming the socks off the husband's boss or you'll get yours when you get home.

Interestingly enough, it is far more acceptable to the British public for a man to hit his wife/girlfriend for flirting or not treating him with respect than for actually cheating on him. Apparently, appearances are everything. Presumably he is PUBLICLY humiliated by flirting and being dissed, but only privately humiliated by cheating.

According to the study, Brits think women are at least partly to blame for rape and sexual assault if they are wearing sexy clothing. Welcome to the age of the burka, ladies.

What is most disturbing to me is that only 86%/76%/64% are likely to intervene if they suspect a female family member/friend/neighbor is a victim of abuse. Of those who refused to intervene, 62%/69%/72% felt it was none of their business, for the couple to work out, or they simply didn't want to get involved. Ladies, if you were expecting your neighbors to act like grown ups, you are going to be sorely disappointed. Nothing like a little empathy for others to create a cohesive community.

Am I alone in thinking that this is totally fubared? I lived upstairs from a domestic abuser when I first moved to Chicago. Honestly, the man was an idiot. He was a drunk. He hid his beer in the bushes in front of the house. When I found it, I took it. He had a wife half his size and a toddler. He would get drunk, the wife would begin nagging at him for drinking, things escalated, and the beating and screaming began. I could hear it coming, even if she couldn't. I called the cops regularly.

This was not a house they were unfamiliar with. Where domestic abuse is the norm, these people do come to the attention of the police. But apparently, the police depend on the abused to file charges, and many are unwilling to do so.

My brother thought I was kidding about it until he moved in with me following the breakup of his marriage. One night when I was out with friends and he was home alone, one of those fights began. My brother called the police. When the police arrived he went out and talked to them. He told the officers that if they didn't remove this guy from his apartment and throw him in jail all night, when they left, he would take care of the situation. They took the guy away.

One day, after my brother moved out, I called the landlord. I'd had enough. I told him that I was afraid of the abuser downstairs. I told him that I had no idea whether he was a danger to others or just his wife. I explained that he was a drunk. I explained about the booze hidden in the bushes. I told him that something had to be done. That I lived alone. That I didn't feel safe.

The next day, the wife from downstairs came and knocked on my door. She stood there, with a black eye and told me that she was sorry they had disturbed me. She tried to calm my fears that he was not a danger to the single woman upstairs who had turned him in to the police and called the landlord. I stared at her. I must have looked incredulous, because the more she talked the more animated she became. She kept apologizing to me. She did. Where was her mother-fucking coward of a wife-beating husband? I bet he sent her up there to take care of this problem.

I let her speak her peace. When she finished, I told her only this.

"One day, he is going to kill you."

She turned and walked back downstairs into her apartment and closed the door.

I moved out when my lease was up. I have no idea what happened to that couple. I hope he hasn't killed her.

Thank God for this guy.

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