[From Detroit Free Press]
ROCHELLE RILEY: Star stands by her man, but why?
December 12, 2003
BY ROCHELLE RILEY
Houston, we have a problem.
It wasn't enough that Whitney Houston went on national TV last year and told ABC-TV's Diane Sawyer that "crack is wack" -- even as she looked stoned. It wasn't enough that not once, but twice, she had to tell her daughter she'd be right back, she had to go get Daddy out of jail.
Now comes word from suburban Atlanta -- her word, not his -- that her husband, Bobby Brown, hit her Sunday night. Houston called 911, and officers found her with a cut lip and bruised cheek.
Can somebody please separate Whitney and Bobby? If she, blinded either by obsession or true love, can't help herself, can friends or family help before it's too late?
Why should I care, you ask? Because by helping Whitney, we might help thousands of women who justify their suffering as standing by their men. Each year, there are women who stand by their men until their coffins are lowered into the ground.
Two years ago, there were nearly 700,000 attacks committed by former spouses, boyfriends or girlfriends, according to U.S. Justice Department estimates based on victim surveys. More than 588,000 were attacks by intimate partners against women, according to the estimates, the most recent available from the Justice Department. How many women look at Whitney Houston and want her life, her smile, her voice, and see Bobby Brown as the price of fame? Which one believes that if Whitney can stick with Bobby, she can stick with Sam or Justin or Leroy, even though he's slapping the heck out of her every week?
One big problem with Whitney and Bobby is people think their behavior reflects that of stars seeking public adoration.
But violence is a byproduct of neither celebrity nor wealth. This is how Whitney and Bobby would behave if they didn't have money. So all this powerless couple truly reflects is the universal truth that anger doesn't live at any one socioeconomic level, and that no matter who you are, you're in trouble if you're incapable of self-control.
What kind of role model has the former superstar become? Whitney's in the news these days more for questions about her behavior and her husband's arrests than for her music, including her latest effort, "One Wish: The Holiday Album," which debuted Nov. 18 at No. 58 on Billboard's Top 200. For Whitney Houston, No. 58 pales in comparison to her track record. She was the first female artist to enter the album charts at No. 1 and is the only artist to have seven consecutive No. 1 hits.
Now, the woman who once ruled the music industry is a victim standing by a husband charged with misdemeanor battery.
Whitney took an important first step by calling police. But then she accompanied Brown to a Fulton County, Ga., magistrate's court to stand by her man. And she'll probably stand by him when he returns to court Jan. 7 -- unless he winds up in jail sooner.
Authorities were investigating Thursday whether the new charge against Brown violates his old probation for drunken driving. For those who know her, and can help her up -- and help her back -- please do it.
Don't do it just for Whitney. Do it for victims everywhere who need to know when to run.
Award-winning Detroit Free Press columnist Rochelle Riley's new book 'Life Lessons' (Detroit Free Press, $14.95) is now available. Order it at 800-245-5082 or www.freep.com/bookstore.
Contact ROCHELLE RILEY at 313-223-4473 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
12 DECEMBER 2003
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