A little over a year ago, newspapers across the country flashed pictures of her battered face. Shocked fans were outraged as morning after morning the headlines retold the story of Chris Brown physically attacking his then-girlfriend Rihanna. No one saw it coming; the young up-and-coming artists seemed to have a life of which most people could only dream. Now months later, another famous face has taken the spot light. Mel Gibson’s furious rants, racial comments, and allegations of physical violence against Oksana Grigorieva have become national news.
Statistically, these cases happen far more often than people are aware. In the United States alone, four to five million women will suffer from an abusive relationship each year. Along with this staggering number, domestic violence is said to be underreported 60 – 95%. Big time celebrities caught in a scandal often shed light on an issue that is grossly ignored. People are disgusted by the tapes of Mel Gibson, and shocked by Brown’s actions. Yet women across the country have to deal with their own Gibsons and Browns on a daily bases. According to a Harvard study, one in five high school girls in Massachusetts public schools have been hit, kicked, or punched. When will their stories be headline news?
“My friend was in a car with her boyfriend. They got in an argument and she tried to get out of the car. He grabbed her and hit her and held her in the car.” This is a quote from a high school student in Massachusetts, after being interviewed about dating violence in her high school. Her story scarily resembles Rihanna’s story. We know that domestic violence and dating violence span across the socioeconomic boundaries and can happen to almost anyone. So many times, people read the news articles, hear the stories, and yet, still think to themselves: not in my town, not here. The fact is that these girls are in your background, not just in inner cities or in untouchable Hollywood.
What happened to both Rihanna and Oksana is just as tragic as when it happens to average women all over the country. As we have seen, having celebrity status does not exclude one from the world of domestic violence. These stories are always complicated for foundation such as the ROSE Fund. While no woman deserves to endure any form of abuse, the issue finally becomes front-page material, where it should stay until there is no more news to report.