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An Open Letter to My Daugthers and Yours

Cameron Turner

I have two daughters. A 10-year-old fifth grader and a 12-year-old sixth grader. I've also got a niece in the 8th grade. So, the news about music star Chris Brown beating up his girlfriend, pop star Rihanna, has infuriated on a very personal level. As my girls move toward dating age, I pray that they'll never be victimized by a date, boyfriend or husband. But if their relationships do turn violent, I pray that they'll make the smart, self-loving decision to drop the abusive guy without hesitation. Here are some thoughts that I hope will empower my girls and yours. -- CMT

My Dear Ladies and Ladies-To-Be,

Rihanna is reportedly "taking a break" from her abusive boyfriend, Chris Brown, after reuniting with him shortly after he (allegedly) beat her bloody. She hasn't actually broken with up Chris and it seems she's still reluctant to testify against him in court. I wish Rihanna well but I think it's foolish for her to even consider going back to the man who beat her like a dog minutes after he received a private invitation via text from another woman. Rihanna is showing poor judgment and I hope you will not follow her example.

My advice is simple: If your boyfriend hits you, break up with him. Don't wait for him to punch you over and over again until you're bleeding and almost unconscious the way Chris Brown evidently did to Rihanna. If your boyfriend hits you even once, break up with him. Immediately. There is no excuse and no necessity for a man to hit a woman. Ever. This is especially true for teenagers and young adults. And the experts are right: if a guy hits you once there's a really good chance that he'll do it again. What's worse, he'll probably blame you for it.

So, I repeat: If your boyfriend hits you, break up with him.

And forget all this silly, insulting mess about Rihanna inviting Chris' beat down. Nothing she may have said or done could possibly justify him striking her one time - let alone repeatedly.

That girl who told Oprah and Tyra Banks that Chris acted in self-defense was full of crap - particularly since what she described was not self-defense at all, but retribution (an "eye for an eye" so to speak). The circumstances under which a man or teenage boy needs to use violence to defend himself against a woman or girl are so rare that they're almost inconceivable.

The overwhelming majority of domestic and dating violence incidents have nothing to do with guys defending themselves. More typically they boil down to guys over-reacting due to arrogance, a lack of self-control, low self-esteem or, worse yet, a sexist urge to put the woman "in her place." (This is the same mentality and values system that makes it easy for certain men to casually and consistently refer to women as "bitches" -- even women they are supposedly in love with.)

A boyfriend who abuses you may try to make amends. But you should still dump him. He will apologize. He may cry. He may beg for your forgiveness. He'll probably tell you repeatedly that he loves you. He may offer you an expensive gift. If he's sincere then accept his apology and extend your forgiveness. But decline the gift and break up with him anyway. You see, even if he actually is repentant -- and that is a BIG "if" -- he still isn't ready to be anybody's man. So, your leaving him has nothing to do with an absence of love. Of course you love him, but that isn't the point. He's got issues. Serious, personal issues with anger, self-control, self-esteem, humility or respect. Until he works those out and becomes a different person psychologically and in terms of his behavior then he should not be with you or anybody else.

Saying "I'm sorry" is not enough. He needs to commit the time and energy to get himself together. He needs to learn skills for managing and expressing his anger appropriately. He needs psychological counseling to take a long, hard look at himself and find out what made him bug out and put his hands on you in the first place. And he needs to put the lessons he learns and the skills he develops into practice over an extended period of time.

The last thing I want to tell you is that you should never feel guilty about breaking up with an abusive boyfriend. You haven't betrayed or abandoned him. He betrayed you when he crossed the line into violence.

You are entitled to choose the kinds of relationships that bring you happiness. You are entitled to relationships based on kindness, respect, friendship and shared fun. You do not have to settle for a relationship filled with drama and stress with a man who insults you, makes fun of you, tries to control you, pressures you to do things that you don't want to do, cheats on you, lies to you, scares you, threatens you or hits you. That kind of relationship is not love - whether you're 17, 27, or 77 years of age.

The Apostle Paul broke it down in simple yet profound terms: "Love is patient, love is kind." Remember that. Those six words describe what we should all give to one another and what you deserve.

Thanks for listening. I'm Cameron Turner and that's my two cents.



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