"Rihanna’s reaction is actually quite common amongst survivors of domestic violence. Eighty-five percent of women who are abused return to their abuser at some point, and many victims leave seven or eight times before they make a clean break. Unless you believe most women are weak or stupid, numbers that high should eliminate the “victims are weak or stupid” argument when trying to explain why they return to their abusers. Unfortunately, it’s far more complex than that.

In order to understand the cycle of domestic violence, it’s important to turn away from the easy task of victim-blaming and do what our culture is often far too uncomfortable to do: look at the abuser’s choices instead. Chris Brown, like the majority of seriously violent abusers, is male, so this post will focus on men who abuse. These men who commit acts of domestic violence are often portrayed as if they had poor tempers and the inability to stay in control of their emotions. In fact, the opposite is true. Abusers actually tend to be control freaks who beat women because, on some level they like it, and because it gives them a greater sense of control. As journalist Emily Bazelon chronicled in Slate, abusers consciously make the choice to beat as much as they feel they can get away with and no more; that’s not the behavior of men who are “out of control.” An abusive man tends to see a woman as an object for control and violence as an acceptable way to control his property.”