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GUEST COLUMN

It's still abuse even if you're famous

By taking Chris Brown back after he allegedly beat her before the Grammys, pop-singer Rihanna sends a horrible message to women and girls everywhere. Abusive men don't change their ways just because they get caught and going back to a man who punches you simply continues the cycle of abuse.

Leaving a batterer can be difficult for women who are not pop stars with infinite financial resources. Escaping can often mean leaving home and possessions behind for an uncertain life where others may not support your decision.

Rihanna, however, had no such worries and she should not only leave Brown, but make sure he gets punished for what he allegedly did. If she stood up and said that no woman should ever stand for being beaten, she would give countless women the strength they need to leave their own abusers.

As a famous singer, Rihanna could have become a voice for battered women, speaking out across the media and giving abused women someone to look up to. Instead, if she has taken him back, she sends the clear message that it's okay to beat your girlfriend as long as you act really sorry and promise it won't happen again.

Women, it appears to me, like bad boys and too many ladies have the ridiculous idea that they can reform one. Unfortunately (I'm talking to you Rihanna),if he hits you once he's going to hit you again.

You can fix your man if he goes out a little too much with his friends or if he has bad table manners. You might even be able, with professional help, to reform a guy who yells at you or slams doors, but once he beats you to a pulp, there's no fixing, only delaying the inevitable.

Punching a woman requires a level of deviance that few men could imagine approaching. From birth on, every guy gets it drilled into his head that you don't hit a "girl." Call it a basic rule of humanity, but even the most violent guys eager to fight other men over every minor reason understand that you can't hit women.

It takes quite a bit of anger to pummel your significant other so badly she looks like she has gone a few rounds with Mike Tyson. Nobody accidentally beats their girlfriend so her face looks like hamburger. If you have that kind of rage in you, it's likely to come out again and when that happens all the talks with marriage counselor Sean "Puff Daddy/Puffy/Diddy" Combs won't help.

Rihanna has a chance to stand up for battered women everywhere and say that it's okay to leave and move on with your life. She can show that some lines can't be uncrossed and that for some offenses an apology is simply not enough.

Perhaps Rihanna needs to look at the photo of herself after the beating to remember that no matter how charming Brown may be, he did something too terrible to forgive. It should be pretty simple: if he hits you, then he hits the curb. There might even be a song lyric in that.

- Daniel B. Kline's work appears in more than 100 papers weekly. He can be reached at dan@notastep.com

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