"I’ve been down that road," said the R&B singer, who pled guilty to felony assault of his then-girlfriend Rihanna in 2009
The indisputable, visual evidence of abuse. The victim’s decision to stay. The high profile nature of what is usually a hushed crime. It was inevitable that Chris Brown’s 2009 assault of then-girlfriend Rihanna would be compared to indefinitely-suspended NFL player Ray Rice’s abuse of then-fiancée, now wife Janay Rice.
Although Rihanna hasn’t provided comment, she has been directly impacted by Rice’s abuse. CBS pulled her planned performance of “Run This Town” from the NFL pre-game show.
Interestingly, it is Brown who has spoken up about Rice’s act of abuse, as a man who has “been down that road before.” The main takeaway? Seek therapy, as Brown does twice a week, or else “you’ll become a monster.”
Here’s what Brown said to MTV News’ Sway Conway Thursday:
I think it’s all about the choices you make. With me, I deal with a lot of anger issues from my past – not knowing how to express myself verbally and at the same time not knowing how to cope with my emotions and deal with them and understand what they are.
So I think help is great. I still talk to my therapist twice a week, and it helps me to…if I’m frustrated and I’m dealing with something, to vent and say what I’m going through so I can hear from an actual clinical person, ‘this is how you should react,’ or ‘it’s good to feel this way because feelings, emotions, and energy are supposed to come and go. It’s not supposed to stay there, you’re not supposed to keep it inside, because it’ll bottle up and you’ll become a monster.
For me, dealing with my anger issues and understanding myself and the life I’ve been through, where I’m headed and where I want to be has helped me focus on what’s really important and not F up. For anybody who’s going through that situation or anybody who’s dealing with it — it’s all about the choices. Every situation is different but it’s all about the choices you make and how you control your anger.
To Ray, or anybody else — because I’m not better than the next man — I can just say I’ve been down that road. I deal with situations and I’ve made my mistakes too, but it’s all about how you push forward and how you control yourself.
As an act of solidarity with Janay Rice, who has been critiqued for choosing to stay with her husband, thousands of women have courageously shared their stories of abuse and the inherent complexity of their decision not to leave under the powerful hashtag #WhyIStayed. Robin Givens wrote her own account of staying with an abuser on TIME.
Hearing directly from abusers, however, is rare.
While Brown’s openness does not erase his crimes, it opens up a very important conversation that needs to be had on the other side of the table as well.