Dr. Drew Pinsky hit up Lance Bass’ SiriusXM radio show and made some eyebrow-raising comments regarding Chris Brown and Rihanna. He started off on a high note, discussing how difficult it is for a woman to leave her abuser. “On average, it takes a woman in a domestic violence situation eight attempts at leaving before she leaves,” Dr. Drew said. “They go back — they misinterpret the intensity as love. They think it’s so intense and great, ‘He loves me so much, that’s why he got so upset.’ We haven’t heard the end of this.”
Lance Bass then asked him if he thinks Rihanna has battered woman syndrome and Dr. Drew replied, “Let’s face it, she’s attracted to that … Listen, I don’t fault either person. I don’t [say,] ‘Oh, it’s a bad person.’ These are human experiences. These are very common situations these days.”
It’s unclear exactly what Dr. Drew is saying here — is Rihanna not a “bad person” for still loving Chris? Is Chris Brown not a “bad person” for beating the shit out of her? It’s not obvious whom he is referencing with these comments.
But whatever he meant, I’m flabbergasted Dr. Drew could be on air discussing Chris Brown’s domestic abuse and actually say, “I don’t fault either person” — especially without further articulating what he actually means. It makes it sound like he’s saying the violence was both their faults, as if she is somehow responsible for provoking him, that Chris Brown beating up Rihanna was something she brought upon herself. And I beg to differ with him that being physically abused/physically abusing your partner are just “human experiences.” They may be sadly-all-too-common experiences, but it’s not like they just happen.
Later on in the clip, Dr. Drew spoke about how when people watch TV and see people who are trying change their lives, they wag their fingers at them and chastise them to “just change!” He says that change takes a really long time — which can be true — and says that things like going on a diet or getting more exercise take a long time. And while his point is that most people don’t just change overnight, again, it is hella inappropriate to be discussing one man’s acts of domestic violence against his partner inside a patriarchal culture and make it sound like not punching your girlfriend is just like going on a diet or exercising. As much as I may dislike Dr. Drew as a person for comments he has made about BDSM, I don’t think he is a complete idiot and I know he knows all about the cycle of abuse. I wish he had actually talked about it.
It’s a shame that Dr. Drew squandered parts of this interview. Someone who is being abused does not need to be told they are at fault for what is happening to them. They actually need our support as they find the strength to get out and accept that they deserve better for themselves. So, to counterbalance Dr. Drew’s fail-worthy comments, I leave you with these much more articulate and on point thoughts by blogger Amanda Marcotte, which she wrote in a piece for The Frisky earlier this year:
As strange as it may seem, the best way to encourage women to leave men who abuse them is to refrain from judging them or shaming them for the times they stayed. Doing so just sends the signal to victims that they deserve what is happening to them and that no one understands them. Only by extending our sympathy and understanding can we make them feel loved and comfortable enough to leave. When we see a public figure like Rihanna stuck in the cycle of domestic violence, by expressing sympathy and understanding, we signal to the women around us that, if they are ever caught in such a cycle, they are not alone.