Rihanna breaks silence with first interviews since her assault: What will she say?

Rihanna has remained all but silent in the nine months since she was assaulted — a stark contrast to the fumbling interviews and stiff apologies we’ve heard from her attacker, ex Chris Brown. Not anymore. Whether because she has an album on the way or just because she’s ready to talk now, Rihanna has booked several high-profile interviews this week, including a sit-down with ABC’s Diane Sawyer that will air this Thursday and Friday on Good Morning America and 20/20, and a lengthy Q&A with Glamour.

Transcripts of the Diane Sawyer interview haven’t been released yet, aside from one key quotation about her assault: “This happened to me…it could happen to anyone.” Her Glamour remarks give more of an idea of how she’s handling that sensitive subject. “Domestic violence is a big secret,” the singer says. “No kid goes around and lets people know their parents fight. Teenage girls can’t tell their parents that their boyfriend beat them up. You don’t dare let your neighbor know that you fight. It’s one of the things we [women] will hide, because it’s embarrassing. My story was broadcast all over the world for people to see, and they have followed every step of my recovery. The positive thing that has come out of my situation is that people can learn from that.”

Some commentators don’t think these words go far enough in condemning domestic violence. But I think Rihanna is doing the right thing by speaking out on this issue at all. This is the personal trauma of a 21-year-old that we’re talking about. After the downright nasty victim-blaming she’s endured from certain quarters since February, I wouldn’t have been surprised if she’d chosen to stay quiet for longer. She was the victim of a crime — that doesn’t make it her responsibility to be a public advocate. Given how many young female fans look up to her, though, I’m glad that she’s taken on that role in a way that she feels comfortable doing.

How about you? What do you think of Rihanna’s Glamour interview? What do you hope she’ll tell Diane Sawyer?

More from EW.com’s Music Mix:
Rihanna, ‘Wait Your Turn’: New single leaks to web
Glambert and ‘Gossip Girl’ join the weird world of Weezer
Jay-Z and Alicia Keys: Watch their ‘Empire State of Mind’ video now
Pete Wentz: Music Mix Q&A

Photo credit: Ida Mae Astute/ABC

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Comments (69 total) Add your comment
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  • deb

    She’ll say I wanted 2 speak out so that I can promote my new cd!

    • Wanda

      well, deb, arent you a classy one. use common sense, how would she avoid talking about this incident while promoting her cd? it would be the big elephant in the room. good that management/family advised her to finally just talk about it and get it over with.

      • carole

        I agree with deb – first words out of her mouth – I have a new song out – her “family” should have told her to leave the jerk and get a court order of protection – she went back to him for more of the same – obviously did not get in the line for brains when they were being passed out

      • Liz

        Carole – what a cruel person you must be.

    • AJ Simon

      why does she continue to get attention? She is a mediocore singer at best who is more famous for things UNRELATED to music. I feel sympathy for her, Chris Brown is a dirtbag as are all men who physically/verablly abuse women BUT musically she is nothing special. Its a shame in music only those with the right PR people get coverage while people with actual talent seem to go unoticed

      • Sally in Chicago

        She gets attention because she has a good publicist. And this time around, she has a CD coming out.

      • Shana

        lol I got news for… some of the most famous “singers” (britney, etc) are nothing special musically. Scandals make stars, that’s all.

      • Delana

        I agree with you! I’m 22, but I’m tired of these musical pop “artists” today. 95% of them have mediocre ass talent and excellent PR people with other people writting and producing their hit songs for them cause they don’t have the skill to do it themselves. They’re just their to look good and sell a product. Real talent is almost dead! Being someone who was in am emotionally abusive relationship, I do feel for her but I do feel like she’s trying to cash in on the situation, cause, unfortunately, that’s hollywood!

      • missyb

        they have issue and yes they need to set the drama aside and focus on their music. they both are slipping away from their fame because of the domestic issues.

  • crispy

    Hey Rihanna, Halloween is over. You can stop wearing your alien costume.

    • Brandon

      YES.

    • DD

      So Crispy, you are here too bashing another celebrity, get a life dude cause it’s too short. Are you getting bored of Adam these days???

  • Chichi

    “She was the victim of a crime — that doesn’t make it her responsibility to be a public advocate”

    And why not? Why is there such a social stigma attached to being a victim of a violent crime? There is no easy road to justice in the court system for women who are victims of domestic violence. And it is partially due to the fact that women won’t allow their voices to be heard in mass. It has to do with men wanting to hold on to an image of women as being submissive and weak. Rape, domestic violence, be it verbal or physical, has everything to do with control and power.

    Women have to feel empowered. We have to get strong, VOCAL, women out there who are not afraid to speak it and paint a bigger picture GLOBAL of our plight.

    Mr. Vozick-Levinson, if one woman is hurt, just the same as one child, or one man, we ALL are hurt.

    Rihanna or any other “victim” should be socially visible, and maybe the stigma of being a “victim’ will dissipate.

    • Mariah

      While I can appreciate your sentiment, I vehemently disagree. Rhianna has no responsibility to anybody but herself. If in her heart she wants to become a public face speaking out against domestic violence, more power to her. On the other hand, if she wants to move on from the experience and leave it in her past, that’s her right too. I really don’t understand why people expect Rhianna – or any person who has been a victim of a crime – to make her entire life about such a horrific experience. What if she just wants to heal and move on, leaving it in the past? There is nothing wrong with that. Nobody but Rhianna gets to dictate what she is socially visible for.

      • Classy

        Exactly right!

      • Chichi

        “I really don’t understand why people expect Rhianna – or any person who has been a victim of a crime – to make her entire life about such a horrific experience.”

        Mariah, it is sentiments like this that give any “victim” of a crime the need to keep what has happened bottled up or regressed. Who said make your entire life about being a victim? Just like she is known for making pop music, she can be known for speaking out about being the “victim” of violence – what makes that so awful?

        Why not be open about it? Why not talk about it, open and freely? How are things going to change if nobody wants to put a face to crime against women?

        It is getting ridiculous what is happening to women in this country and globally because we have had it engrained in us not to speak about it.

        There is no place for diffusion of responsibility when it comes to violence against women. It is one of the most archaic practices that is still going on because women have a fear of being ostracized for something that is not their fault.

      • Khristina

        Who are we to dictate the “rights and wrongs” of discussing such an incredibly horrific experience to the world before she is emotionally ready? Regardless of how much time has passed since the situation happened, she is the one who gets to choose WHEN SHE is ready to do so. I don’t blame her for keeping quiet for a while. Just be thankful she IS speaking out now and can hopefully help others in similar situations…but I’m glad she didn’t succumb to the pressure of the nation telling her what she should do- and that she just did her own thing until SHE was ready.

      • vicki

        Chichi, its Rihanna’s right to just want to be known for making pop music and nothing else. Why not be open about it? Because its her right not to be. She can give this one interview about it and tell every other interviewer that the subject is off limits. Her reasons are her business. If she manages to move on and live her life, she automatically shows other women that its possible to move past abuse. Not everyone has to be an activist. She has already put a face on crime against women. The message is “if it can happen to me, it can happen to anyone.” Just because she’s not talking about it to everyone on the planet doesn’t mean she’s keeping it bottled up.

    • Levelheaded

      “Why is there such a social stigma attached to being a victim” Well look at the posts on this website alone. I think I would keep stuff to myself too.

      • Liz

        I agree. People can be vicious both physically, emotionally and verbally. And we can see by reading these comments just how vicious they are with their words. She’s damned if she does and damned if she doesn’t. I empathize with her and wish her nothing but the best.

    • LoveTV

      What about men who are victims of abuse?

      • Marianna

        There is an even greater stigma attatched to men who have been victims of abuse. It’s very difficult for them to stand up and publically state that someone has been whaling on them, particularily if that someone is their wife or romantic partner. And yet it happens. Probably more often than we would like to think.

    • Bethann

      Chichi, I get you and actually agree, in large part, with a lot of what you’re saying about what’s necessary to break the cycle of violence against women. I just think your argument is misplaced because *Rhianna’s doing exactly what you’re calling for* — speaking out against what happened to her, trying to shed light on this from the abuse victim’s POV, and trying to tell young girls that they *don’t* have to be silent about it. I get it that you disagree with Simon, but Rhianna’s actually doing the very thing you’re advocating, so why not focus on why you think it’s a good thing that she’s speaking out, instead of making it sound like she’s not doing that very thing.

    • cARMEN*

      Rihanna is a victim but not a “VICTIM” yes Chris brown was wrong for hitting her and beating her, but the real question is: ” What did she do to provoke him?” I only have sympathy for the women who are true victims

  • Fatima

    I’m glad she’s doing it when she’s ready. I’ll be buying her album for sure. In my eyes, she’s an icon already. I think she blends performance, look and music way better than Lady Gaga does. Go watch the Wait Your Turn video on her website for proof.

  • Wanda

    “Domestic violence is a big secret”. Unfortunately, it is. And im glad she’s comfortable enough to speak against/about her incident. She’s just a young 21yr old girl, let her express her pain in her own way. Like EW said, its not her responsibility to be a spokersperon. Who knows? maybe down the line, but not now. its too recent. And anyone who disagrees, probably has not experienced this type of pain and humiliation.

  • CureCJD_Heather Larson

    I’m still a bit disturbed that a girl who was the victim of violence would put out a song titled “Russian Roulette.” I get it. She’s hurt, the album’s going to be a bit dark. But I just don’t think it sends the right message to young girls. I’ll have to wait and see what the rest of the album is about.

    • Levelheaded

      Our whole society doesn’t send the right message to young girls.

  • Tobi

    I totally agree that anyone who is putting her down because she’s not strong enough are insensative jerks. Not everyone can handle a horrible act like this with a spoltlight. She took time that she needed to heal, and I commend her for that! Her new album will sell millions without the spotlight of her attack simply because she’s a brilliant artist!

    • carole

      took time and got a bad haircut – get a life

      • Carole, what???

        YOU GET A LIFE and STFU!!

  • Tom

    ”Some commentators don’t think these words go far enough in condemning domestic violence.” Why are they jumping on this now? These commentators are only looking at a small published portion of the entire interview. Why not wait until you’ve had a chance to read/see the entire interview before you rush to judgment?

  • Mr. FAMU

    She has an album to promote…. Nothing to see here but a young woman and a record label who want $$$

  • meso soup

    WHO CARES!!!

    • TERRA

      WE CARE.. DONT LEAVE A COMMENT IF U DONT CARE.. DUM..

      • Shamrock

        I don’t care, and I’m leaving a comment…deal with it.

  • Agustin

    The thing that bothers me the most is that the timing IS NOT RIGHT. If she wants her “side of the story” to be believable, which I am 100% supporting her, she should’ve made these interviews without any other distraction, as her new CD. It makes her story less likable perhaps…

  • TERRA

    AND… SHE DIDNT JUST DO THE INTERVIEW TO DEBUT IT TO HER ALBUM.. SHE TALKIN BOUT THE SITUATION ON HER OWN TIME.. ITS NOT JUST FOR THE CAMERA.. IF U NEW BETTER.. NOBODY LIKES TO TALK ABOUT THESE THINGS..

    • mark

      why pick this time to talk about it – with the CD set to debut on 11-23…timing issues here – I would fire the promotions manager

      • Bethann

        Mark, both you and Agustin are pretty naive if you think that she wouldn’t be asked questions about this as she tried to promote her CD. She’s being proactive and addressing the issues people want to hear about from her — how did she feel about what CB did to her, how did she cope, how did she heal, does she feel healed, etc. — given what happened to her. She honestly wouldn’t be able to just promote her CD; journalists would have tried to get her to talk about the abuse anyway. So, she’s being proactive and having that conversation on her terms and under conditions that make her feel more comfortable.

  • Eliza

    I can’t believe the cruelty I see about this case. Rihanna is a young woman who was in an abusive relationship who happens to be famous. Her fame did not have anything to do with why she was attacked. Domestic violence is not like being chased by paparazzi: it’s not for celebrities alone. She should be allowed to handle it however she needs to.

    And how could you ever say “should” about something so painful that you have never gone through? Even if you have gone through it, everyone heals differently. Stop with the shoulds and the berating.

  • J

    Some of you people need to get over yourselves. You have no idea of what she went through, why she is speaking now… Look in the mirror, people.

  • Classy

    For those of you suspicious of her timing on talking about this topic think about when else she could have spoken about this. She has to promote her album and in doing so it would be eerie beyond endurance for her to not at all talk about “the incident”. Talk about the elephant in the room! She may have been too upset to speak on it sooner, and it would have made it seem like she was trying to be some kind of spokesperson for abused women if she did these interviews before. With her album coming out there is a substantial, professional reason for her to be on tv and she can conveniently work in some words on the abuse without having the pressure of having the whole interview center around that part of her life. Rihanna probably never really wanted to talk about this, but b/c interviews and promotion is as much apart of being a pop singer as music is…she now has no choice but to talk about it.

    • Bethann

      Absolutely right on point, Classy. ITA 100%.

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