Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Robin Givens on Domestic Violence, Rihanna, Chris Brown & Life with Mike Tyson

I saw the Larry King Live show last night that Joy Behar hosted. On it, actress Robin Givens discussed her life with former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson who used to beat her, and she said he hit her even before they were married. She talks about why she stayed and why she left.

I remember when her domestic violence case was news in the late 80s and early 90s, and people accused her of being a gold digger, said she was lying, and consistently made excuses for Mike Tyson the way some are making excuses for Chris Brown in the Rihanna case. She was called by some people in the black community "the most hated woman in America." But not by me. I always believed what she said about Tyson.

(Updated: Teresa Wiltz at The Root has a good post on Givens/Tyson and Rihanna/Brown, link.)

Only the most stubborn people continued to support Tyson after he was convicted of raping Miss Black Rhode Island and still believed he was a stand up guy even after he bit off Holyfield's ear in a boxing rematch. I recall that the many in the African American community also blamed the rape victim, Miss Rhode Island, for Tyson's raping her, asking why did she go to his room. We've got a serious problem with blaming women for men hitting and sexually assaulting them not just in the African American community but around the world.

If you can't see the Givens video, then you may read the transcript here. The video includes a clip from Sean Combs (P.Diddy) saying we shouldn't judge Chris Brown. His attitude seemed to offend Givens and others on the show; however, the panel agreed Brown is young enough to change with the right counseling. The video panel includes experts on and survivors of domestic violence.

Givens, who has two sons, one a teen, also expressed dismay that so many young people see Chris Brown as a role model and the message being sent to young males. Brown recently withdrew his name from nomination at Nickelodeon's Kids Choice awards. Prior to his withdrawal, some parents circulated a petition asking Nick to remove him from the awards show.

An important point for mothers of sons, Givens said she's wants to raise her sons to be men of integrity: "I'm determined to give the world good husbands and good fathers," she said.

CNN Transcript.


exeal said...

I watched this Larry King episode with Joy Behar hosting. Even though Robin Givens, Denise Brown, and the other guests had enlightening information about abuse, Joy Behar is such a bad "moderator" that she was distracting. Someone should teach her to read a teleprompter in a natural speaking voice and lose the monotone way of speaking like a robot. She constantly refers to her notes while guests are speaking and doesn't appear to even hear what they are saying.

Aside from what people may think about Robin Givens personally, she is a great advocate for abused women. If her story can help give even one woman the courage to leave her abuser, then more power to Robin.

Thank you for letting me post on your blog.

msladydeborah said...

I have never liked Mike Tyson. I especially hate the sound of his voice! I always thought that he was a bully instead of a boxer.

It also mystifies me when a black male celebrity is charged with domestic violence some of his biggest supporters are women. It is like there is a group that just will not accept the truth as facts.

I often wonder where we went wrong on this issue? It seems as if we had a secret society campaign that filled unsuspecting women's head with nonsense about the issue of abuse and violence.

It use to really P.O. me off when I would hear someone declare, that the victim should of fought back against Tyson. Really?
That was just plain STUPID!
Anyone who has ever watched him fight in the ring realizes that he could knock another heavy weight out. What change did she stand against him?

I also think that Mike never really like women that much.

Vérité Parlant said...

exeal, Maybe it's because Joy's a comedian. I think Larry King really likes here and that's why she hosts sometimes. She got off topic muddying the waters with the spanking debate. When you throw too many topics at people they can't make decisions about where they stand.

Deborah, I've met women who side with men on domestic violence, even women who've been beaten before. They think the woman must have done something to deserve a hit. I wonder if it's some kind of Stockholm Syndrome or an overwhelming desire to be accepted by men more than anything else in the world, sort of like the older firefighter in "Lie to Me" last week who valued his association with other firemen men, even racist firemen, more than he valued his association with black people.

onein3 said...

Oftentimes the abuser's family will enable his violent behaviour. We are a group of friends that know and worked with a young woman named Joy Loftin while she was employed at the Vanderbilt YMCA here in New York City. During the length of her employment, several extremely disturbing incidents occurred that cause us to be concerned and call into question the motives and the integrity of Shan Colorado Finnerty, Hortensia Colorado, and Elvira Colorado.

On several occasions, Joy came to work with visible bruises on her neck and arms. She eventually explained to us that Shan had punched, beaten, and choked her and she asked us for help. As wardens for the community, we tried to place Joy in women’s shelters around the city in an effort to mitigate the abuse. However, at the urging of Shan’s mother and aunt, Hortensia and Elvira, she returned to their apartment and refused to press criminal charges against Shan Colorado Finnerty. The abuse continued and one day, she came to work very early, visibly distressed and crying, with more bruises and abrasions. She said that Shan had verbally abused and beaten her once again; that she wanted to return to California, and that she was going to quit her job and reunite with her family. She tendered her resignation later that week. Out of concern for her safety and in an effort to find out what happened to her, we requested an officer from the domestic violence unit of the 5th Precinct conduct a welfare check at their home on Kenmare Street. However the officer was unable to find anyone at the apartment, and therefore could not verify that Joy was safe. We realize that she is suffering from battered women’s syndrome and may be unable to help herself due to the isolationist environment that the Colorados have formed around her. Abusive men are often enabled by their family, while the victim is persuaded to believe the abuse is her fault, and the pattern of emotional and physical trauma continues. Taking into consideration what has happened to Joy Loftin, it is especially deceitful that their display "Altar: El Llanto De La Resistancia" at the American Indian Community House was in part dedicated to victims of domestic violence.

In light of these events, we are dismayed, disappointed, and outraged to know that members of the American Indian Community would commit, condone, and perpetuate domestic abuse and violence, while simultaneously conducting workshops, writing and performing plays, and displaying works and art that would have the public and those who support them believe otherwise. It is a vulgar and offensive misrepresentation of American Indian Culture, and further support of Coatlicue Theater, Hortensia Colorado, Elvira Colorado, Shan Colorado Finnerty and their work is tantamount to supporting domestic abuse and violence. Considering their duplicitous behavior, having them represent American Indian Culture is an insult to the dignity of American Indians and an affront to human beings.

We therefore will not attend nor support any Coatlicue Theater productions or events where they will be featured. We will be encouraging others that might consider attending, participating, or funding them to do the same. Our actions are warranted, and to be associated with the aforementioned individuals and Coatlicue Theater would be equivalent to enabling and contributing to such offensive behaviour. We are urging everyone to reevaluate their support of Coatlicue Theatre and the Colorados, and question the individuals concerned. Until the responsible individuals are held accountable and measures are taken to verify that the abuse is no longer occurring, we will continue with our boycott of Coatlicue Theatre and we will strongly urge others to do the same.

nutnbutdatruth said...

I was raised by women, and I respect women. What's missing from all the hoopla about domestic violence is the statement that it is not a gender issue; it is an act of violence against another human being, regardless of gender. Now, Robin Givens made this statement, "No Matter What a woman does, a man should never hit her." That's wrong, irresponsible, and it sends the wrong message to women. It actually encourages some women to hit men, which results in them getting hit back. Why now say, "No one should hit anyone no matter what!"

Vérité Parlant is Nordette Adams said...

Of course no one should hit anyone, but to reduce a man hitting a woman to being the same as a woman hitting man is to pretend ignorance of the difference between strength levels of men and women in general. Consequently, it is a cop out to ignore the underlying power issue and historic dominance of the male over the female since the dawn of humans as well as to turn a blind eye to the difference between female aggression and male abuse. Standard fare for men who wish to excuse other men for beating women. Women don't excuse themselves from hitting men usually unless it was in self defense. Men, however, seem to look for reasons to excuse themselves hitting women even though men are bigger and stronger. Why do they hunt for excuses to bully women physically, because that's what it is, a grown man being a bully?

I don't think Givens was saying it's okay to hit a man and don't think most women would think that's it's okay for them to hit a man. The ones who do need help just like the men who do it need help. Both have anger and control issues they need to address.

nutnbutdatruth said...

Hi Vérité Parlant. Actually, Ms. Givens said exactly that toward the end. I moved the recording back and listened again to make sure of what I heard. With all due respect, the moment you wrote "but" in your first sentence -- after agreeing violence is not a gender issue and that no one should hit anyone -- you put a gender disclaimer on the statement. I am sure you are a nice, intelligent woman; however, your position absolutely baffles me. Female aggression vs. male abuse? So it’s just female aggression when a woman attacks, scratches, yells at, and slaps a man repeatedly, but if he puts his hands on her, it then becomes abuse, so she can call 911 and have him arrested because he touched her? Well, I wonder then why there’s a T.V. show devoted to the violence women inflict upon men, including cold-blooded murder. It's called "Snapped." Does this not show that women too can be violent? Or were they all victims too who had just cause for their actions? I invite you to take a look at this well-written article by Cassandra George Sturges @ I completely agree with her. What you're saying, however, is that strength differences between men and women make it OK for her to attack, and he cannot retaliate? And who do you think will monitor that "rule" as the incident is unfolding, as if angry people follow rules? The implication is that a woman should be allowed to flip out, yell at, scratch, and slap a man repeatedly, and although he's human, he must be rational through the tirade, suppress all human instincts, and turn the other cheek. That’s an unreasonable expectation for the man and a very dangerous one for the woman. Understanding that women are intelligent, I'd ask you shouldn't a woman be expected to know right from wrong, to not hit or be violent in the first place, especially knowing that she's attacking someone who is physically stronger? (Would she slap a bear at the zoo? No.) Or are you saying the opposite, which as Ms. Sturges alluded to, would be an admission that women are not intelligent and cannot control themselves, so they will be prone to flipping out, attacking, and being violent, and that behavior should be understood as you would understand it from a child who is incapable of knowing better? It can't be both ways. There is, however, a third position: some women just think they are entitled to special privileges, want to have it their way, do whatever they want, and expect no opposition. But to provoke is to ask for trouble. Being right under the "rules" won't matter if after the dust settles, he’s in jail but she’s injured or dead! So to avoid the affair, don’t provoke in the first place, man or woman. I say the only adult and responsible thing to do for the man or the woman is to walk away before anyone starts anything violent, and then end the relationship if they can’t work it out without violence. That way, no one gets hit, no one gets abused, and no one goes to jail.

Vérité Parlant is Nordette Adams said...

No, that's not what I said, and this is my last comment to you on it.

nutnbutdatruth said...

That's OK, and sorry if my comment rubbed you the wrong way, but it was in response to Ms. Givens' comment, which she did make. My thought is to end violence by both men and women period as opposed to even remotely sending the message to women that they can attack a man, and the man should not and cannot retaliate. Some, not all, men will retaliate, which make is a dangerous and irresponsible message for women.