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Friends say: “He treats you that way because he can get away with it.I would never let someone treat me that way.” But she knows that the times when she puts her foot down the most firmly, he responds by becoming his angriest and most intimidating.He’ll get severely depressed, causing her to worry whether he’ll be all right.And, depending on what style of abuser he is, she may know that he will become dangerous when she tries to leave him. I feel utterly powerless, and that feeling is my prision.This is internalised by women: as Rihanna said, she thought she could be Brown’s “guardian angel”. How will we change men's behaviour if we refuse to hold them accountable?She felt it was her responsibility to fix him – a responsibility that every victim of domestic abuse is told by the world must be hers to bear. We blame women for staying or returning, when they are surrounded by a culture that defines their happiness as dependent on being part of a relationship, pities them when they are single, demands - and gets - huge sacrifices from mothers. Every action is scrutinised and becomes grist to the mill that continuously grinds out the expectations that frame ordinary women's lives.Nobody will forget that picture of Rihanna – eyes blackened, face swollen and bruised. “I just never understood that, like how the victim gets punished over and over.When her then boyfriend Chris Brown assaulted her in his car and then left her on the side of the street in 2009, shockwaves went around the world. 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,” she said.
Maybe I'm one of those people built to handle s**t like this," the singer admitted, adding that it was her ‘willingness’ to accept Brown’s behaviour that eventually made her realise he’d never truly respect her.Domestic violence is a choice that men make about the power and privilege they assume, and the way they use it.Yet so often it is framed as a choice the victim makes: that she chooses violence by not leaving, by falling in love, by giving him a second chance, by not wanting to be on her own. How can women ever move on from abusive men in a culture that tells them the man is not really, truly at fault?When she stands up to him, he makes her pay for it—sooner or later.Friends say: “Leave him.” But she knows it won’t be that easy. He’ll get friends and relatives to feel sorry for him and pressure her to give him another chance.