Broken Records: Combating Domestic Abuse In The Mtv Generation
From Shakespeare to Slim Shady, domestic abuse is an issue that has always managed to penetrate popular culture – despite somehow largely maintaining its taboo status. Whilst ‘Othello’ warns against the self-destructive nature of abusive relationships, the MTV generation are far more likely to take note of Eminem and Rihanna’s depiction of this downward spiral in their Grammy-nominated track and video, 'Love The Way You Lie', for example...
The worrying desire for revenge following jealousy in a relationship is certainly a theme that has filtered into hip-hop lyricism, from Eminem to Ghostface Killah, arguably sending the wrong message to the young people that hold them as role models. That being said, hip-hop artists are not to blame for the culture of domestic violence that is on the rise in our society, abusive partners are.
Whilst there is no excuse for abusing a vulnerable person in their own home, some may argue the need to note the influence of such mentalities in this ever-increasing problem. It is, however, equally important to recognise the positive influence of urban musicians in combating this crime. In fact, it was only when one young woman fell victim to this growing issue that the hip-hop generation begun to listen. After all, there are few who do not recall how Robyn Fenty’s dream relationship became a public nightmare.
Unfortunately, many criticised the Bajan songstress, better known as Rihanna, for the depiction of her experiences with domestic violence on the 2009 album, ‘Rated R’. Publicity stunt or not, I would personally be inclined to argue the latter – Rihanna’s frank and candid treatment of the subject provided a voice for the many vulnerable young women that are too afraid to speak out.
As with the majority of socio-political issues that plague our generation, the primary steps toward combating domestic abuse are undoubtedly education and awareness. Perhaps it is high-profile artists, such as Rihanna and Eminem, who may actually make a difference by immortalising their experiences – either as victim or victimiser –on wax and shattering illusions surrounding this taboo subject.
When it comes to combating domestic abuse, the most powerful weapons are words. A raised voice may seem a futile defence against a raised fist, but speaking out against violent partners can save lives, as well as providing a much-needed catharsis. In many cases, the scars may have long since healed, but sadly the impressions remain on the mind and conscience long after the so-called “incident.” All too often, the victims and witnesses of this traumatic experience, hold just one regret: not having spoken out.
If you need help or more information about abuse in relationships, you can visit thisisabuse.direct.gov.uk for advice and assistance.
Words: Hannah O'Connor (@HipHopSuperhan)
Online editing: Joseph 'JP' Patterson (@Jpizzledizzle)