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:
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.