Everything in Rihanna’s life changed that night in 2009 when her then-boyfriend, superstar Chris Brown, attacked her before the Grammy Awards. Since then, the two (who split shortly after) have become inseparable in the aftermath of her violent ordeal. Rihanna became this generation’s poster child for domestic abuse and Brown became something of a new age Ike Turner in the eye’s of the public. But as Rihanna explains to Oprah Winfrey in her upcoming “Oprah’s Next Chapter” interview, Brown was never simply a villain to her; he was the man she loved.
“I lost my best friend. Everything I knew switched … switched in a night and I couldn’t control that,” she said tearfully about that Grammy weekend in a newly released preview of her interview. “So I had to deal with that, and that’s not easy for me to understand or interpret. It’s not easy to interpret on camera — not with the world watching. So it was hard for me to even pay attention to my mind and figuring things out because now it became a circus.”
After the attack, the two stars were wrapped up in a media frenzy as well as the very-public demise of their relationship. And though the world was worried about Rihanna, she says that her main concern at the time was Brown.
“I felt protective,” she admits. “I felt like, ‘The only person they hate right now is him.’ It was a weird, confusing space to be in. Because as angry as I was, as angry and hurt and betrayed, I just felt like he made that mistake because he needed help, and who’s going to help him? Nobody’s going to say he needs help. Everybody’s going to say he’s a monster without looking at the source, and I was more concerned about him.”
It’s rather stunning to see Rihanna showing both sympathy and empathy for Brown in the aftermath of his abuse against her. While not relieving him of accountability for his actions, it seems that she has reached a place of understanding that he, who as a child endured the abuse of his mother at the hands of his stepfather, was a victim in his own to his own personal demons.
Hopefully, Rihanna’s interview will bring about more conversations about the experiences of both the victim and the abuser, so that more psychological help can be given to those who are in their shoes and more cycles of abuse can end.
And Rihanna’s not alone. Check out some other celebrities that have made peace with their tragic pasts below. – nicholas robinson