An open letter to the daughters of ____________

Photo by Hoang Uyen on Unsplash

You don’t know me, and probably never will. That’s okay. All that matters is that you know I am here if you need me. I don’t know much of anything about you, and that’s okay too. What I do know is enough.

I work with your mom, you see, and she’s told me a bit about you. You’re pretty young right now, but you’re growing up and there are some things I feel like I need to tell you. Even if we never meet.

Your mom is the biggest Chris Brown fan I’ve met in years, probably ever. And while I’d like to let people do as they please, to each their own, etc. she has some…troubling ideas about the whole domestic assault situation between him and Rihanna and she’s raising you with them and I worry it will give you some ideas about your self worth that just aren’t true. Namely, she takes issue with people labeling him a wife-beater (even though that is what he is) because he’s only done it, so far as any of us know, just this one time and it is therefore merely a mistake. That isn’t true. It’s not a mistake he made, it’s a choice.

She hates Rihanna and, as I understand it, won’t let you listen to her, because she doesn’t take any responsibility or get hold accountable for her actions during it all. I don’t know that you will hear from her, so allow me to spell it out for you in the simplest terms I can imagine: your mother is wrong. I don’t know all the details of what set off the fight, I only know the aftermath. There are pictures out there on the internet, for anyone to see, of what she looked like when he was done.

And let me tell you: there is nothing she could possibly have done to warrant the abuse. There is nothing any woman can do to deserve, no responsibility she needs to take, when a significant other abuses her. If what you glean from what your mom says is that you’ve done something to start or deserve what gets done to you when you get abused, I want you to know this isn’t true. It’s not your fault, and there are ways and people to go to to get help. I know also that I may be overreacting, but I’m saying all of this to you just in case I’m not. I have to hear every day about how “cute” Chris Brown is, and how people don’t like your mom’s reasoning for hating Rihanna, and how Rihanna got famous off of other people’s (namely, his) misery. I have to sit next to a cube where pictures of you sit pinned up next to pictures of him.

Everyone else in the building we work in knows what a trash fire he is. And even when they don’t say anything to her about her pictures, or her phone backgrounds, or her ringtones, she makes a point to mention that they didn’t say anything in an effort, I can only assume, to get them to. At first I thought some how maybe she didn’t know about it. I couldn’t imagine a world in which that was possible, but I wondered all the same. Because how could someone know that was what he was capable of and still idolize him? Well, I know now that she knows, but I still don’t have an answer to my question. I don’t know if she knows she’s the only person in at least a 50 mile radius that I know about who’s a fan of his. But I know and have heard some of what she believes, and I want you to know it’s not right.

Everyone is free to make their own decisions, of course. There’s nothing I can say to change her mind about him, and there’s nothing she can say to change mine. I just want you to know you should make your own choices about who and what you listen to, and what you believe, and I want you to know that idolizing an abuser at all — much less to the degree your mother does it — is unhealthy. If you need help, or just someone to listen, I will always be here. I hope you go and grow out into the world and do great things. And I will keep you in my thoughts and in my heart, whether we meet or not. You will always have someone wishing only the best for you.

Good luck, and keep your head up, your heart open, and your ideas your own.

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Katelyn Nelson’s writing interests lean mostly toward pop culture analysis and representation. She tweets @24th_Doctor, mostly about horror.

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Katelyn Nelson

Katelyn Nelson

Katelyn Nelson’s writing interests lean mostly toward pop culture analysis and representation. She tweets @24th_Doctor, mostly about horror.

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