Rihanna's Diane Sawyer interview, part 1: Pain, shame, hard lessons

rihanna-20-20-interview_lThe first part of Rihanna’s vaunted interview with ABC’s Diane Sawyer just aired on Good Morning America. It was only a five-minute clip — a teaser for the real interview that’s coming tomorrow night on 20/20 – but already the singer has said more than she did in the nine months following ex Chris Brown’s violent attack on her.

GMA cherrypicked some gripping excerpts for this interview trailer. The part that everyone will be talking about came when Rihanna acknowledged getting back together with Brown in the weeks after he assaulted her. “It’s pretty natural for that to be the first reaction,” she told Sawyer. “The moment the physical wounds go away, you want the memories to go away.” Love, she said, had blinded her at the time. Given how many victims of domestic violence do go back to their abusers, it’s important for the public to hear an explanation of that toxic thought process.

Rihanna told Sawyer that she eventually ended things with Brown after thinking about the example she was setting for fans in abusive relationships of their own. “When I realized that my selfish decision for love could result in some young girl getting killed, I could not be easy with that.” She said she became ashamed that she had ever been with someone who was capable of what Brown did to her: “I fell in love with that person. That’s embarassing.”

Intense stuff. In this clip, at least, Rihanna made an honest, powerful advocate for victims of domestic violence — tearing up at times, but determined to get her message out. Like I said yesterday, it’s not this 21-year-old musician’s responsibility to take up that role, but so far she’s doing an impressive job talking about issues that are all too often ignored or kept quiet for the very reasons she mentioned.

What did you think of Rihanna’s first GMA segment? Will you be watching again tomorrow?

(Follow the Music Mix on Twitter: @EWMusicMix.)

More from EW.com’s Music Mix:
Rihanna breaks silence with first interview since her assault: What will she say?
Taylor Swift on ‘SNL’: Let the Kanye yukks begin
Allison Iraheta exclusive: Songwriting and production credits for her debut album
‘This Is It’: Michael Jackson soundtrack tops the albums chart in a busy week


Comments (199 total) Add your comment
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  • Such old news….

    It’s pretty sad that Rhianna decided to wait to be interviewed for this in time for her new CD release.

    • Gabby

      Oh give her a damn break. It’s great that she decided to address the issue at all. Of course she wants to clear the air before she jumps back into promoting her single – that’s only natural.

      • April

        And it would be weird if she didn’t say anything about it.

    • stacy

      For real. But that is how the game is played isn’t it? I heard that it’s not a very good album but I bet it will sell really well anyways. Not bashing on her or anything, just commenting…

      • Marcy

        Good that someone is thinking about domestic violence – but I agree with “such old news” waited so long (OK, fine therapy, whatever) but Chris Brown has already run his mouth everywhere – CD due before Turkey Day – Guess who looks like an overdone Turkey now…

      • vicki

        Has it occurred to you that she has no choice but to address it now that she has to promote an album? You people would be complaining just as much if she refused to discuss it. Give her a break. Everyone deals with these things differently.

    • Telly B

      I absolutely agree. If she talks about the example that she is seting and all that, then why not talk before? If this is indeed about helping others, why wait until the album is about to be dropped in order to talk? I think it’s disgusting how celebrities exploit this very serious issues to sell records…

      • Mark

        I’m not sure it’s just straight exploration I mean, the reason people get on these shows is to talk about current projects, be it an upcoming record or some kind of charity deal. Basically, that’s it. So I’d really consider it the first opportunity she has to talk about it.

      • Geez

        A lot of you really need to shut up and pay attention to what really matters. She is speaking up, thats what matters, not the timing. And think for a sec, maybe she wasnt planning on speaking but realized with her CD coming out, the questions would be unavoidable. Maybe, for her, she feels like its the right time. Maybe she wants to sell records. Who the Eff cares what the reason is? The point is that she’s speaking about it and in the end girls will benefit from this. Why are some of you so negative and so full of hate and judgement? Imagine you got beat down by your husbands and everyone found out and you had to take a month off or however long to heal, would you call your work before you went in to talk about it to everyone or would you address it on your first day back? Seriously people, think.

      • mimi

        you guys are nuts. but i guess because you never been in a situation like that then you just may not know any better. it took long because she needed to recover first. duh! in a situation like that, you have to do ‘you’ first. find your mind again. she was nice enough to let the public know because in reality, its none of you all’s business.

    • Elle

      I used to really like Rihanna. This was huge!!! And she had a missed opportunity. She really could have made a difference in the lives of many young girls who looked up to her. Chris Brown is DONE, over, no more. She really needs to step up and be proactive for the rest of her life, this is what she has been called to do “her purpose” she is beautiful and talented, now she needs to educate herself and those closest around her (because THEY let her miss this HUGE oppotrtunity) Then she can educate her young girl fans and earn everyones respect. She can still do it!

      • mimi

        she is still educating people!! do you all understand she had to R E C O V E R first?????????

    • aurora

      I so agree with this, and the reason she decided to dump him after initially going back to him is because the public was turning against her.

      The amount of PR speak in this article is ridiculous.

      • carol522

        Has everyone forgotten that there was pending criminal case that had to be settled before she said anything? I’m sure prosecuters told her not to discuss the case and there may have been a gag order. If I remember correctly, Chris Brown wasn’t saying much either until the case was settled.

        Kudos to her for explaining her thought processes. I’ve been in that type of relationship and I know what she felt and what she went through. Until you walk an inch in her shoes, you can’t possibly understand or pass judgement on her actions!

    • Ari

      Rihanna, please spare me! You’ve gone on record for smashing your brother in the head with a glass bottle, and it’s on record that you smacked Chris Brown and then he pushed you into the wall. But I guess she now knows that you can’t just keep putting your hands on ppl and not expect a hit back. And now you “tell all” to promote your CD. You’re not so innocent.

      • Wanda

        Wow, ignorance at its best. Shoving a guy doesnt deserve a bloddy beat down. What planet are you from? its quite simple, anyone who is naturally weaker shouldnt be taken advantage of…if a kid hits you does he deserve for an adult to beat him to the ground? Idiot.

      • Ari

        Wanda. For one, don’t call me ignorant because you disagree with me. That is very childish and ignorant. Rihanna is known to be a violent person. She has even stated it in interviews like how she used to beat up her younger brothers, sometimes with weapons like glass bottles. I for one would never ever even think about hitting a woman. NEVER!!! On the other hand if I am with a woman that provokes me time after time one day I might loose it and lash out and retaliate. And that wouldn’t make it okay to do so, but a human can only take so much. So are you saying weaker people are aloud to go around beating people with no repercussion. Get a grip please. And to respond to your sense less analogy, if a kid goes around hitting adults time after time thinking they can do whatever they want, then yes maybe a beating from an adult will teach them not to do it again. I know woman who have been abused by idiot men and did not do anything to cause it, but I cannot say the same for rihanna. One more thing. Rihanna was not afraid of Chris so don’t compare her to the “helpless” and “defenseless” domestic abuse victim.

      • Ari

        People need to understand that a man should never lay his hands on a woman, but also a woman should never lay her hands on a man. PERIOD! And you cannot argue with that. Some say that woman are naturally weaker, but that doesn’t give them the right to ever put there hands on a man. Keep your hands to yourself and if you cannot resist the urge to hit people, then don’t be surprised when one day they retaliate.

      • mimi

        Ari, i’m sorry but you ARE an idiot.

    • patricia

      so what whenever she was mentally ready to be interviewed is nobody’s business

    • Hollien Lundgren

      It’s pretty sad that there are people like you alive that feel you have the right to judge her.

  • KSH

    I think she gets to talk about it whenever she wants. if she has said NOTHING people claim “it sad that she is trying to sell records and doesn’t want to talk about the Chris Brown beating” – you can’t win with some people.

  • Kelly

    I know this will probably set some people off, but will Chris Brown be interviewed to hear his side? The only reason I say this, is that I have seen people rehabilitated from being abusive, that’s all. I just wonder if he has learned from this situation and will think twice about being abusive. I admire Rihanna for stepping up and realizing she is a role model, but if Chris is really remorseful and has tried to fix it, he can be one too.

    • CDT

      I think he is giving interviews — the major one I’ve heard about is with MTV.

    • LB

      He’s spoken publicly on this issue A LOT: larry king interview, youtube video, and the upcoming MTV interview to name a few.

    • real critic

      I agree. It’s completely unfair that no one is addressing the fact that Rihanna hit him several times. I’m not saying that she deserved what she received, of course not. But why not ask her those tough questions?

      • Dr. T.

        Wow!!! I cant believe you are asking that.You MUST be a Man AND an abuser! Educate yourself Stop the cycle!!!!

      • DS

        I agree with real critic. Shouldn’t we be teaching our kids that violence is wrong regardless of who is doing the hitting. Why is it ok for an out of control women to beat on a man? Love should not physically hurt anyone, man or women.

      • Serious~

        I agree with Dr.T.!

      • LC

        Violence is wrong, however; if a woman ever hits a man he should try to restrain her not beat her silly. Obviously they were completely unmatched strength wise. For people trying to blame her for the brutal attack she suffered (at his hands while he was driving) is ridiculous. He could have restrained her or called the police.

      • dmblb

        If a woman wears a bikini at the pool, is she responsible for inciting a rapist? Or is she just wearing fashionable swimwear? If a woman argues with a man is she responsible for him hitting her? Or is she letting her feelings be known within a relationship? How responsible can you be for the emotions/actions of people around you? I once signaled, then legally moved into the left lane, making a guy a few cars back become enraged. He wanted to be where I was, so he slammed two cars behind me, in front of him, to get to the spot I “stole” from him. I know a guy who used to hit his wife when she overcooked his eggs. He constantly warned her about this, but she never cooked the eggs right. If someone is looking for an excuse to hit, rape or be violent in any way, they will find it. Blaming the victim is cruel and unfair– and unfortunately the victim often blames him/herself.

    • Natricia

      Kelly you are a rock star for saying that.

  • Greg

    Uh oh…I think in the coming days what really happened in that car is going too drop,and when it does will we look at victoms diffrently, i mean she’s only a victom now becuase she’s had pr coaching and an album coming in two weeks, I still think she was a willing participant.

    • LB


      • AP

        Learn to spell!

      • Greg

        you got what i was trying say spell that…lol

    • talkin’


    • Deb

      It is unbelieveable that someone would say, after seeing the pictures of her after the beating, that she was a willing participant. It is attitudes like that which allow domestic violence to continue. No one, man or woman, asks to be a victim of domestic violence and to be beaten to a bloody mess like she was.

      • Mark

        THIS. Thank you.

  • HaHaHa

    I can’t believe how many of you are so jaded!
    It’s nothing more than a way to sell more records for herself!

    • KS

      Do you mean “naive” instead of “jaded”? Jaded is more akin to “cynical”, which seems to be the tone of your post

    • Kelli

      Thank you KS. HaHaHa, yours is the by-far most jaded post on this page. Just definitonally speaking.

    • HaHaHa

      I love seeing all of these bored housewives getting worked up over nothing!

    • Suzanne

      To HaHaHa
      Re “bored housewives”
      What’s your excuse for being on the board? Unemployed loser?

      • carol522

        I call that one BOOM BOOM POW!

  • LK

    regardless if this is in part a promo for her upcoming album, at the end of the day she was abused at the hands of someone she thought loved her and she thought she loved him – in my mind there is absolutely no reason for Brown to do what he did, none whatsoever. and at the end of the day she is an entertainer and she is a promising singer so more power to her and she has some big balls (or ovaries i guess) to be able to speak openly about this issue.

  • CDT

    In my opinion, I think that once again, the majority of us are making swift and uncomplicated judgements about both of these people — two people who most of us have likely never met. It is unfair to both of them for us to assume anything, just because of any preconceived notion that we might have about one or the other. I also suggest that unless a person has knowingly been in an abusive relationship, that person should listen first to everyone involved before forming any opinions.

  • Greg

    I agree CDT, however its too late to step back and not judge thats not the society we live, we’ve already cast the villan and the hero in this, although i tried to not too form an opinion about this when i first heard it, I just dont buy that she’s this innocent here, I beleive this was the nature of there relationship and up until that night, I think he was the one being abused.

    • talkin’

      what makes you think that?

    • Ed

      man, your grammar sucks. you deserve to be severely beaten just for that alone!
      No woman deserves to be beaten by a man, who is physically stronger, than a woman is.

      • Ed

        guess my grammar sucks too.. but not nearly as bad as yours!

  • Sally in Schaumburg

    She as forgiven him for his actions and she has forgiven herself for your inaction. Is she a role model? I don’t think so, she is still and entertainer looking for her time in the spotlight. Rih’ needs to find Jesus and follow what is true and right before we can accept her again. Take responsiblity for what your misdeeds Amen!!!

    • Felicia

      I’m sorry but…what? Your post is incoherent

    • alexis

      Jesus freaks are hysterical… except when they walk around thinking they’re better than others. they’re a scary bunch and not at all different from muslim extremists, or other religious extremists for that matter.

      • Deb

        As a christian I object to your term “Jesus freak”; I am not a freak because I believe Jesus was the Son of God, and I don’t think I am better than anyone else; what I am is forgiven.

      • Alexis

        um, so is every single man on the face of the earth… what is your point exactly? Didn’t Jesus die so that we all could be forgiven? Better yet, did he not teach his followers to beware of false gods and leaders invoking the name of god to spread hatred, divisiveness and animosity among us? Personally, I don’t care if you object or not to my term “Jesus Freak” — I live in a free country, just like you do, and I can express myself about a group of people I am not fond of, just as your ilk can express themselves negatively about those who don’t agree with your narrow views about the world, religion and spirituality.

      • Natricia

        Alexis God bless you

      • Alexis

        Natricia, your snark is wasted on me considering I am already blessed – I was blessed the moment I was given the freedom to think for myself and form opinions and ideas for myself. I do not need to ‘believe’ in gods to know the difference between good and evil. You should really think about what Christianity, or other organized religions created by MEN, think hard about why they were created and what they stood for originally, think about what purpose they served. Since Christians like to throw the ‘god bless you’ phrase around so much, I will assume you are Christian.. think about what that really means, what it has meant to other cultures that might have had different religious belief systems, the atrocities that churches and religious fanatics have committed against other peoples in the name of ‘god’ – whatever god that may be. You might be surprised… do some research, educate yourself and think about what feels right and what feels wrong.. do you think hatred is good? Do you think divisiveness is good? Do you think discrimination is good? Did Jesus go around discriminating against others or did he go around spreading his message of peace, acceptance and love? Did Christ only heal the sick that could afford it or was he fair and benelovent to everyone, regardless of their social status, background, ethnicity, sexual orientation, skin color? Open your eyes for once, think for yourself and truly see what your precious organized religion is doing, compare that to the message that Christ gave the world and then tell me if it agrees with what your religion is doing now… oh, and btw – you’re welcome.

    • Boom

      Like Jesus doesn’t have more important things to do – like save marriage from those awful gays and help people win the lottery or do better in sports. Shesh – who does Sally think Rhianna is anyway – someone important?

  • Sarah

    I’m glad Rihanna acknowledged that she did go back to him and that it was wrong. At the end of the day, Rihanna is a regular person, and statistics show that it takes a woman 5 or 6 attemps to successfully leave their abuser. I really don’t care about the timing of her interview. As long as she is doing this on her terms, that is all that matters. Good for Rihanna for opening up about this situation.

    • Marcy

      Contray to reports that there was no contact and court orders, yadda yadda yadda – so much for telling the truth

      • Mark

        Woman’s word probably comes above “reports” (especially since there were ones that were contrary, as well. It’s often an uniformed jungle out there in terms of press) and, sadly, court orders, from what we know about domestic violence.

  • Rosa Torres-Sadler

    I will be watching. I am going to support her in every way possible. She is now advocating for all young woman out there and older woman also. Domestic Violence does not care what age, race or gender you are. God bless you Rihanna!!!

    • Katie

      LOL you keep telling yourself that.
      The MINUTE her album drops, let’s see if she’s still out there rooting for battered and abused women.

      (I doubt it…)

    • Linda K

      I agree with Katie – is she really an advocate for the young women when she really does not understand the desperation of most victims. Those victims that do not have Jay-Z having her stay in his palace of a house. Most don’t have a support system, most go to shelter or need to stay with their attacker because they can’t support themselves or their children. Rihanna really go out and DO SOMETHING to support women if you really mean it.

      • Chichi

        If there is not a place for an abused/victimized woman’s to fight for justice on a larger scale, then who’s is it?

        This entire article, like the one written, yesterday irks me to no degree.

        Women in general should not be afraid to talk about violence on any level, be it in a small or large public setting, let us all stop stigmatizing the role of a victim or an advocate and get to the bigger issue of helping those who are abused.

        I’m glad she came forward, and her reasoning of knowing that she has a larger role to play and her actions will/can be mirrored by other women is a commendable.

        There is no shame in being abused/victimized, the shame is remaining silent about it.

      • Mark

        “There is no shame in being abused/victimized, the shame is remaining silent about it.”

        I’d almost just want to leave the shame out of it for a minute. It’s an impossibly tough situation, either way. Do we have to judge so?

      • WD

        So what exactly do you want her to do? serve soup at a shelter? spend time counseling victims? what will make YOU happy? victims, regardless of status in a society, are not obligated to become an advocate. If you have been a victim or have worked with victims, you wouldn’t give such crude, ignorant advice.

    • Marcy

      Advocating for domestic violence victims – she got beat up by her boyfriend – fine – did she end up running to a public aid shelter, or county facility – NO – she called friends who by the way have enough personal security to ensure safety – that people of planet earth is not what happens to most domestic violence victims…she is making a farce of the entire incident to sell her CD and to help keep her name (and Chris Brown’s name) in the news for all the world to hear

      • Samantha

        Marcy – you’re absolutely correct. If she is true to what she says may be she would want to donate a portion of the CD sales to support the victims of domestic violence.

      • Suzette

        Yeah, I watched the interview and she is not very convincing. She seems like she is just saying the words to make herself appear to be a changed person. I don’t buy it. If she is such an advocate she should have spoken out prior to the release of her new CD (always got something to sell) and if it is THAT important to her she should donate part of the proceeds to a charity associated with battered women. I mean let’s face it – she can certainly afford to.

      • Patty

        Marcy–you are absolutely incorrect. Whether or not she went to a shelter or called her personal, private security does not make her any less a victim. Your comment makes a farce out of all women who have suffered abuse.

  • TheObserver

    Whether she stayed quiet or spoke she would be judged for it. She has to talk about it now because she is releasing an album and she has to promote it and every journalist and their mother wants her version of the incident. If she continued to keep mum about it, it would just become a bigger deal. I applaud her for taking control and speaking about it ON HER OWN TERMS

    • Marcy

      Terms = $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $

      • TheObserver

        You don’t know that for certain. cut her some slack. not everyone is a money grubbing whore

      • Marcy

        Everyone has a price – you added the whore part

      • TheObserver

        There’s no need to be so mean. and no…not everyone can be bought and sold

      • alexis

        so, by your standards.. you have a price too. What is your price?

  • TheObserver

    Having said that despite the servere….wrongness of what Chris Brown did it is WRONG to hit anybody. Women should not slap men and think its okay and guys definitely should not hit girls and think its okay. There should be no hitting period! I believe Chris Brown when he says he’s sorry and I wish them both the best, but in a day and age when women want to be considered equal to men we must adhere to the fact that an upset woman has no right to hit a man (slap him or shove him) the same way a man has no rigth to hit a woman. period. PERIOD!

    • Greg

      How come no one see’s this but a few people are we so caught in labeling someone a victim or villans instead, of telling our daughters if your big enough to hit a boy he may just hit you back, you better tell them that becuase this generation aint the same as the last these girls are just violent as boys.

      • TheObserver

        I agree teenagers today are alot more violent. Chicago is a mess and girls post videos of their fights online like its something to be proud of. not to mention what happened in Richmond California. thinking about it now literally makes me sick to my stomach. I think I’m going to go throw up now…

      • Suzette

        I agree – people should just keep their hands to themselves. Sorry, but if a woman is beating up on a man he has the right to protect himself and do whatever is necessary to stop the woman from hitting him. I am not saying he should beat her up, but do whatever is necessary to get away from the situation.

      • Tee

        OMG Greg ur’s is the first comment i’ve read that actually made sense. Excellent comment.

  • katie

    why is she dressed to look innocent here.for months we’ve seen her go nea naked and clubbing and now she suddenly looks like the virgin mary pls.

  • keith

    I was VERY impressed. I wasn’t expecting her to demonstrate such maturity and growth. I hope all the young girls who defended Brown and sympathized with him will hear this.

    All you cynics can go f yourselves. Seriously, your attempt at proving how smart you are registers as a giant FAIL.

    • Marcy

      Maturity is a script writer..and good editing

      • keith


      • Marcy

        No it’s PASS – interview shows are pre-scripted – ask only these questions – edit for dramatic effect…

      • alexis

        what is your price, marcy? I’m curious…

      • Marcy

        what are you selling alexis ??

      • alexis

        someone who is selling something doesn’t ask for prices, they set them.

        You said in a post above that ‘everyone has a price’ so I’m curious as to what yours is. Care to elaborate?

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