According to an article in Rolling Stone, the rehab facility where Chris Brown is receiving treatment for substance abuse reports his actions (including assaults against Rihanna) may be attributable to PTSD and bipolar disorder. "Mr. Brown will… require close supervision by his treating physician in order to ensure his bipolar mental health condition remains stable," the letter says. "It is not uncommon for patients with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Bipolar II to use substances to self-medicate their biochemical mood swings and trauma triggers. . . . Mr. Brown became aggressive and acted out physically due to his untreated mental health disorder, severe sleep deprivation, inappropriate self-medicating and untreated PTSD."
First of all, I find it very interesting that the facility appears to engage with Mr. Brown’s publicist in trying to do damage control by releasing information to the public that excuses his behavior. Secondly, let’s not fall into the trap of believing that every abuser’s actions are due to PTSD or some other mental health disorder. I don’t know what in Chris Brown’s personal history may have led to the diagnoses of PTSD. However, I do know that Chris Brown has lived in a culture that endorses violence against women and by blaming it on PTSD this culture ends up minimizing the impact of other causes of violence.
Violence against women is not caused by mental illness, substance abuse, anger, loss of control, anxiety, problems in the relationship, or the actions of the victim. It is caused by a need for power and control and a disregard for women as individuals with their own rights. There is usually a pattern of coercive control that accompanies or leads to the violence. If the violence was due to any of the above, then the violence would be directed beyond just women.
It is my hope that any treatment for PTSD and bipolar disorder for someone with Chris Brown’s history would also include a focused long-term batterer’s intervention program that addresses the culture of violence of against women, stops the violence and prevents the reoccurrence of future violence while ensuring victim’s safety by: identifying abusive behaviors, teaching alternatives to violence, exploring the impact of violence and abusive behavior on intimate partners, children and others, and assisting the individual in examining the beliefs they hold about the violence