Jenice Armstrong: RIHANNA STILL LOVES CHRIS BROWN? WHY?

Speaking to Oprah Winfrey (right) about the 2009 attack, Rihanna (left) said: "I felt protective."
Speaking to Oprah Winfrey (right) about the 2009 attack, Rihanna (left) said: "I felt protective." (ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Posted: August 22, 2012

"WE LOVE each other and we probably always will, and that's not anything that we're going to try to change," Rihanna said of ex-boyfriend Chris Brown on "Oprah's Next Chapter" Sunday night.

Give me a break.

Even before the interview ran, I had a bad feeling about the way it was going to go down. Rihanna, unfortunately, didn't disappoint.

I'm all for forgiveness and compassion, but I don't believe in trying to work on a friendship with someone who's been physically abusive. If you punch me in my face once, I'll spend the rest of my life waiting for another swing, and you would never get within striking distance of my head - not unless I was carrying a big stick.

I'm not saying I wouldn't forgive, I just wouldn't ever forget, which seems to be what Rihanna is intent on doing.

It's not like what happened that Grammy night was isolated. Reportedly there had been a couple of other violent incidents between the young lovers besides the most well-publicized one.

What went down was incredibly ugly, sad and instructive. But there Rihanna was on "Oprah" with her long, wavy hair, looking for all the world like a modern-day Juliet. Winfrey should have cued the violins: "I think he was the love of my life," Rihanna said of Brown.

"He was my first love and I see that he loved me the same way. I truly love him. The main thing for me is he's at peace. I'm not at peace if he's not happy or he's still lonely. I care. It actually matters that he finds that peace."

The one surprising thing that came out of the interview was that it actually made me have some respect for "Basketball Wives" co-star Evelyn Lozada. Unlike Rihanna, Lozada had the good sense to get as far away as possible from her new husband, former Miami Dolphin Chad Johnson, who allegedly head-butted her during an argument over a box of condoms in his car.

After just two months of marriage, girlfriend has already filed for divorce.

Good for her. Lozada didn't even let the fact that she'd signed a prenuptial agreement slow her roll.

I'll bet we won't see Lozada do a sit-down with Winfrey to talk about how protective she felt about Johnson in the aftermath of their scuffle. From what I can tell, Lozada is all about Lozada.

For perspective, I called my domestic-abuse go-to person, Brenda L. Thomas, whose 2007 memoir, Laying Down My Burdens, describes years of 15 beatings and other torment that she suffered at the hands of her ex-husband. When I read some of what Rihanna said during the interview to Thomas, she wasn't fazed. Rihanna, it turns out, is pretty typical.

"She probably still thinks that some of it was her fault," Thomas said. "[My ex] hit me with a sledgehammer and I went back to him . . . he broke my collarbone and I went back.

"After I left my husband, it took me at least six years to cut things off emotionally."

To really free herself, Rihanna will need professional help, said Thomas, who was in and out of therapy herself for many years.

"What kind of help is she getting?" Thomas said. "Just because she's forgiven him and he's supposedly gotten help doesn't mean she should be back with him. That whipping he gave her didn't pop up out of nowhere."

Thomas would know.

"I didn't even want to call it abuse. We want to believe that they are a really nice person under all that," Thomas said of her ordeal.

Not long ago, she came face to face with him again.

This time around, though, her attitude was different as she asked herself, "How dare I let that man whip my a-- like I did all those years?"

That's the kind of attitude Rihanna needs.


Contact Jenice Armstrong at heyjen@phillynews.com or 215-854-2223. Follow her on Twitter @JeniceAmstrong. Read her blog at philly.com/HeyJen.

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