Kelly RowlandKelly Rowland’s “Dirty Laundry” single is triggering an opportune public dialogue about the emotional, spiritual, mental and physical toll of domestic violence. The influential song is also assisting in the dispelling of the stigma of intimate-partner abuse, or more specifically who a victim can be.

It is impossible not to feel these words: “I was battered / He hitting the window like it was me, until it shattered / He pulled me out, he said, ‘Don’t nobody love you but me / Not your mama, not your daddy and especially not Bey.”

Her words expose the isolation many abuse survivors are forced to comply with. Rowland’s raw, emotional lyrics connect with a multitude of women that have or are enduring domestic violence.

In a recent interview with omg! Insider, Rowland elaborates on the abusive relationship she chronicles in “Dirty Laundry”. The Destiny’s Child alum told interviewer Kevin Frazier the abuse was emotional and it had an impact on her self-esteem.

“A piece of me would just go away every time he would say something,” she said. “I’ll never forget those things. I’ll forgive him … he’s a different person now but it was things to tear me down as a person, as a woman.”

She also added: “I was just so young and allowed him to do those things to me.”

I commend the “Kisses Down Low” crooner for seeking healing through music and using her platform to raise awareness about domestic violence. I also hope Rowland has not absorbed the notion that her abuser’s behavior was acceptable because she “allowed” it.

Domestic violence is never the victim’s fault. Abusers abuse because they’re abusers. No amount of hurled cuss words justifies abuse. Age doesn’t excuse fists to the face. Staying in the relationship does not grant abusers the right to sling emotional kicks.

The word “allow” places the onus of domestic violence on the victim while stripping the abuser of his agency. Rowland’s abuser is responsible for his actions, regardless of her age at the time of the relationship or how many times she forgave him.

Nothing Kelly Rowland said or did permitted him to emotionally-abuse her.

Abusers make a conscious decision to hurt their partners. Conflicts always present alternative solutions. An abuser can walk away from the argument, explain why they’re frustrated or even end the relationship rather than engage in violence. No victim incites her abuser.

Cultural victim-blaming e.g. she should’ve left reifies the abuser’s justification. Most abusers blame their victim for the fists, kicks or words, leading to an avoidance of accountability. Rowland should be encouraged to fault him instead of herself for his abusive behavior.

Dr. Craig Malkin, a clinical psychologist, sees education as the sole escape from victim-blaming.  “The reality of abuse is … complex. As a culture, we must grapple with the fact that many of us agree … that the victim is to blame for their abuse when they choose to stay. Sadly, even the abused can start to believe the explanation,” he writes.

Finding a reason or an excuse for her abuser’s behavior should never be Rowland’s burden to bear.


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  • Job

    I can’t believe the author thinks verbal abuse is acceptable.

    “No amount of hurled cuss words justifies abuse.”

    Apparently if a woman verbally abuses a man it’s OK. Wrong. Two people are needed for healthy relationships. Physical abuse should not be accepted, neither should emotional or verbal abuse.

    • Don’t you know it’s acceptable in this society only when a female is verbally or physically abusing a male.

    • AdorkABLE

      I agree Job, along with mental abuse. I think they all are unacceptable. They all leave an imprint that’s hard to remove.

    • Miakoda

      “They all leave an imprint that’s hard to remove.”

      Especially when one is very young when they begin to experience verbal and emotional abuse.

  • Dirty Laundry everybody got some!

  • RenJennM

    I used to be emotionally abused by the guy I was dealing with a year and a half ago. When Kelly said that she “allowed” her ex to say those things to her, I believe what she meant was she could’ve left but she didn’t. She stayed with him and endured that abuse. I’ve done the same, so I know what she means. I highly doubt she was saying that she deserved it or that she did something to provoke him. She’s simply stating that once he did it, she could’ve rised against it and left, but didn’t.

    When you’re in love with a guy like that, you literally can not believe he’s saying those evil things. So, when he comes back and says “I’m sorry” and “I love you” and “I didn’t mean it”, that’s what you hold on to because you believe the good is real and the bad is fake. When you’re in love with a man like that, you’re almost in a dream world that you have to be awakened out of. You have snap out of it and pry yourself from him. A love like that isn’t love… it’s brainwashing. You’re brainwashed to believe he loves you, he has your back, he’s the only one you need, and you’ll be lost without him. I know this because this is what I went through. When you stay with an abusive man, you’re “allowing” the abuse by staying. Staying is telling him it’s ok to mistreat you. Leaving is your freedom. Leaving is telling him “NO! Never again! This will not be allowed”.