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Chris and Rihanna: Just Another Statistic

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The pictures of a battered Rihanna were shocking ... but the fact that a young girl is being abused by her boyfriend is not.

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Earlier today, pictures of a battered and bruised Rihanna were released, and shock waves rippled throughout the country. How could this possibly be? How could two of the music world's sweethearts who seemingly have it all be in an abusive relationship?

Well, according to California's Partnership to End Domestic Violence, it's not surprising that Brown, 19, and Rihanna, who turns 21 today, were involved in a domestic violence situation. Young people between the ages of 16-24 experience the highest per capita rate of intimate partner violence in the nation.

According to the US Bureau of Justice Statistics, an astounding one in three teens report having been abused by an intimate partner, or having a friend who has been abused.

Tara Shabazz, Executive Director of the California Partnership to End Domestic Violence, says the issue of teen dating violence still does not receive the attention it deserves.

"This is a huge problem that is facing so many young people in relationships," she says. "Dating violence is as serious in teen relationships as domestic violence is for adults, and it can have the same tragic consequences. I hope that the Chris Brown incident, coming so soon after Teen Dating Violence Awareness Week, will finally wake people to up the seriousness of the issue."

Becky George, a teen dating violence education coordinator, says these are some red flags a boyfriend could be abusive:

• overly jealous
• excessive text-messaging or calling
• monitoring calls and e-mails
• frequently showing up unannounced
• telling the other person what to do and wear
• publicly embarrassing the other
• frequent accusations of "cheating" or flirting
• keeping the other from doing things they enjoy
• threats of suicide or self-injury in the event of a breakup

Some research shows that 98% of teenage girls who have been abused continue to date the abuser. Your teen could be one of them.

If you suspect your daughter is in an abusive relationship, the following are some classic warning signs to watch out for:

• She apologizes for his behavior and makes excuses for him.
• She loses interest in activities that she used to enjoy.
• She stops seeing friends and family members and becomes more isolated.
• When your daughter and her boyfriend are together, he calls her names and puts her down in front of other people.
• He acts extremely jealous of others who pay attention to her, especially other guys.
• He thinks or tells your daughter that you don't like him.
• He controls her behavior, checking up on her constantly, calling and paging her, demanding to know who she has been with.
• She casually mentions his violent behavior, but laughs it off as a joke.
• She often has unexplained injuries, or the explanations she offers don't make sense.
• You see him violently lose his temper, striking or breaking objects.

"Teens' views on healthy relationships are based on what they see at home, in the media and with peers, who can be very detrimental to their own lives if their parents are in an abusive relationship," George said.

So what can YOU do if you think your teen or someone they know is in an abusive relationship? First and foremost, your teen needs your love, patience, and understanding. Tell them you are not there to judge -- but to listen. Let them know you suspect something is going on and you want to help. The next step? Check out local resources like crisis centers, teen help lines, and abuse hotlines. These organizations have professionally trained staff that can advise you on your options and the best way to get the teen out of the relationship. The most important thing is to make your teen feel safe and in control -- that is, of course, if they are in immediate danger, in which case contact the police immediately. In addition, church leaders, teachers, school counselors, administrators, doctors, and other health professionals can be a wealth of information and support.

In addition, you can also get involved at a school or community level as an advocate to help prevent future dating abuse. One school-based program is Safe Dates. Talk to your child's guidance counselor about starting a group or other ways to get involved in making sure dating abuse doesn't happen to people in their school.

Abuse has no place in love.

Seeing the chilling picture of Rihanna brings a new dimension to this sad story ... and gives us an uncensored look into this nationwide epidemic. THIS is the face of domestic violence. No woman should ever have to withstand such pain -- especially by the hands of the person who claims to love them most.

UPDATE: Rihanna's rep just released the following statement: "At the request of the authorities, Rihanna is not commenting about the incident involving Chris Brown."


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