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CNN LARRY KING LIVE
Why Battered Women Stay
Aired March 10, 2009 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOY BEHAR, GUEST HOST: Tonight, is this the new face of domestic abuse?
Does the Rihanna/Chris Brown case send a dangerous message?
Oprah thinks so.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM "THE OPRAH WINFREY SHOW," COURTESY HARPO PRODUCTIONS)
OPRAH WINFREY, TALK SHOW HOST: Love doesn't hurt. And if a man hits you once, he will hit you again.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's right.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BEHAR: Now, in the LARRY KING LIVE exclusive, Robin Givens and Denise Brown sound the warning to one quarter of all women who will be kicked, punched, raped, even killed by partners in their life times.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LARRY KING, HOST: Why did you stay?
ROBIN GIVENS, MIKE TYSON'S EX-WIFE: I didn't want to fail him. I wanted to love all of his pain and hurt away.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BEHAR: The cost -- millions of shattered lives and more than $5 billion a year.
The dirty secret of domestic abuse out it the open, right now on LARRY KING LIVE.
I'm Joy Behar sitting in for Larry tonight.
We're talking about Rihanna and Chris Brown and the allegations against him. They've called attention to the epidemic of domestic abuse in this country.
As you've just heard, the numbers are pretty appalling. And those are the cases we know about. It's believed one quarter of all assaults against women by male partners are never reported.
Joining me now is someone who lived it, actress, ex-wife of former heavyweight champ Mike Tyson and spokesperson for the National Domestic Violence Hotline, Robin Givens.
BEHAR: Thank you for coming to do the show with me.
GIVENS: Thanks you for having me.
BEHAR: I know you came up from Florida for this.
BEHAR: Very nice of you.
Does this story -- this Rihanna/Chris Brown, bring up bad memories for you?
GIVENS: Yes, it does. Yes. Yes.
BEHAR: Tell me how you've been feeling lately while you're watching this on television?
GIVENS: Well, you feel sort of -- even sitting now, you know, here with you, it shakes you up. You know, you begin to sweat. You know, you begin to feel sad all over. And I've -- you know, I go across the country speaking to different women, I mean all the time. So, you know, and it's hard to sit here. It's hard -- it's just -- it's very difficult.
BEHAR: Uh-huh. You know, you were saying to me before that it's always the same story.
What do you mean by that?
GIVENS: Well, it's interesting, like I said, I've spoken to women every -- Peoria, El Paso, you know, Findlay, Ohio. And the -- what's amazing is that I find that my story is their story, their story is my story -- down to the details. He dragged me down the hall by my hair. He pulled me out of bed by my panties. He would like to choke me. He would kick. You kind of go, hey that's me, too, you know?
I actually -- when I wrote my book, I was somewhere talking about something. And a woman came up to me and she said I wanted you to stop talking because I felt like everybody would know that you were talking about me.
BEHAR: Oh, boy. It seems -- and it's the same progression, too, it seems?
GIVENS: Yes, I think it's an interesting thing that happens. And it's very difficult to explain to someone. As soon as you go back, as soon as somebody hits you -- I was hit for the first time before I was married. And I did...
BEHAR: Before you were married?
GIVENS: Before I was married. And I did what you thought you should do, of course. You know, you don't take any phone calls. Three days, absolutely not. Absolutely not. All of a sudden, you start taking a phone calls.
BEHAR: Softening up.
GIVENS: Yes. And then all of a sudden, OK, let's meet and we'll talk. And then you meet and all of a sudden this person, this man that you love, that's claiming his love for you, is crying, you know?
And then you're consoling them. And it just becomes, I'll never, ever, ever do it again. It will never happen. I just love you so much. It's so hard for me to handle how much I love you. And it just begins.
BEHAR: And then -- so that happened before you were married.
GIVENS: That happened before I was married.
BEHAR: And then did it happen more than once before you were married?
GIVENS: No. Only once before I was married.
BEHAR: Oh, so you believed him?
GIVENS: Oh, I believed him. I believed him.
BEHAR: And it touched -- it must have touched you a little bit, too, like here's this big heavyweight champion crying and...
GIVENS: Yes. I mean I -- I grew up without my father. I mean I really took time to examine me and my choices and how I was in that situation. And this might sound very strange, Joy. It's difficult for me to even say. But to see a man crying like that and promising and professing his love, I thought well, he must love me.
BEHAR: This must be love.
GIVENS: He must love me. Yes, yes. I know that's difficult...
BEHAR: But you went...
GIVENS: ...but I really said this must be love.
BEHAR: When you say that to me now and you think back on it, what do you think -- what were you thinking?
What's the reality of that statement, that it must be love?
GIVENS: Well, the reality is that I -- for me...
BEHAR: Yes. GIVENS: ...for me is that I didn't have a model of what a good, healthy relationship looked like. I was actually the third generation in my -- my family experienced domestic violence.
BEHAR: Were you hit yourself?
Were you hit as a child?
GIVENS: No, I was never hit.
BEHAR: No one ever hit you?
GIVENS: No. No. Which is so interesting, because I ended up marrying -- I mean certainly my mother tried to create a safe, wonderful -- or my household was wonderful.
GIVENS: But I married a man like my father. And that's why when you -- in the opening, when you said the secret, the dirty little secret, you don't know how right that is. It's one of the reasons I wanted to talk about it. I'll talk about it anywhere. I'll write about it, talk to any woman, because it is in the darkness that it grows.
As soon as you start talking about it and you say -- a woman says, oh, you, too, or me, too...
GIVENS: You just feel a little bit lighter.
BEHAR: Tell me quickly, how was he like your father?
GIVENS: Well, I mean in the terms of the hitting, you know?
BEHAR: Yes. Yes.
GIVENS: I mean, you know, my mother had experienced that with my father. And certainly I experienced it. I mean my mother would say that she would play dead, you know?
BEHAR: She would play dead?
BEHAR: Just to get him away?
GIVENS: To make it stop.
BEHAR: To make it stop.
You know, you married Mike Tyson in February of 1988, right?
BEHAR: In the fall of that year, you and Mike sat down with Barbara Walters and -- to talk about the relationship.
Here's an excerpt.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARBARA WALTERS, HOST: What's it been like, this roller coaster?
GIVENS: It's been torture. It's been pure hell. It's been worse than anything I could possibly imagine.
WALTERS: Does he hit you?
GIVENS: He shakes. He pushes. He swings. He -- sometimes I think he's trying to scare me. There -- there's -- there's -- there are times when -- or there were times when it happened when I thought that I could handle it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BEHAR: That is a most interesting moment in that -- in that interview, which I've seen many times.
What was going on in your head during that interview?
GIVENS: Well, I was so numb. I mean, certainly, you know, I talked -- Barbara knew what was going on in our lives and encouraged me to be honest. I wanted to be honest and thought it would help other people.
But it's difficult for me to look at. I mean I'll be perfectly honest with you.
GIVENS: I've looked at it so many times and I, you know, you told me you were going to play it and, you know, my heart...
GIVENS: But, you know I had traveled back from Russia. We had traveled back the night before. And on a plane, he told me he was going to kill me.
BEHAR: He told you he was going to kill you?
GIVENS: Yes. And that he could kill me and get away with it and that it was still love. And very -- he said it very calm. And I tried to convince him there was no need to kill me. We couldn't -- you know, we don't have to be married anymore. And he said, no, I'm going to kill you.
And I mean there you're just so numb -- you become a shell, a little bit. I mean...
BEHAR: He was quiet.
BEHAR: By the way, this is -- he was never convicted of anything, the guy -- any of the -- with you, nothing?
GIVENS: No. But he didn't -- no, no, no.
BEHAR: Just FYI.
BEHAR: I'll put that out there.
GIVENS: It's interesting, though. He had done an interview somewhere, I think for Jose Torres', I don't know, and somewhere else. I don't know specifically, but saying the best punch he ever threw was against me and that he punched me in the head and I bounced from one wall to the other.
And it was really amazing to me because he remembered it specifically. That was the first time I was hit. And he remembered it quite well.
BEHAR: He was a -- you know, I have to point out again, this is a heavyweight boxing champion.
GIVENS: Yes. He used to tell me he wasn't going to hit me...
BEHAR: How much did he weigh?
GIVENS: I don't know. He wasn't going to hit me in the face because he has to walk the streets with me.
BEHAR: Oh, he was counting on that.
GIVENS: And that he would -- knew how to hit me because he was a professional, things like that.
BEHAR: After -- after the interview, though, you stayed with him.
BEHAR: After that interview.
Why did you stay with him?
GIVENS: Well, he had said that he was going to get help. And we were -- I loved him. I wanted to make it work. I wanted to make it work. I wanted to do anything and everything I could for him. I mean I was -- I was very bonded. And it's hard to be bonded and save yourself at the same time. You just want to fix it, you know. You just want to fix it. I wanted to not let him down. I was going to be there for him. And it's hard to do that and -- and save yourself.
Why does a woman go back to her abuser?
I'll ask Robin about it when LARRY KING LIVE returns.
BEHAR: I want to go back to something that you were saying a minute ago about how after the Barbara Walters interview -- where you basically called him out in front of millions of people -- he seemed very contrite. You know, he was sitting there quietly like a little lamb.
And then what happened right after the interview?
GIVENS: I think it was Barbara's birthday. We had a birthday cake. And Barbara didn't come out with us to dinner, but we all want to dinner. Everything, you know, was OK.
BEHAR: Just the two of you?
GIVENS: No, it was a bunch of us.
BEHAR: A bunch of you?
GIVENS: It was the family and it was OK.
BEHAR: And how was he acting then?
GIVENS: Fine. Fine.
BEHAR: He didn't say to you...
GIVENS: But then when the...
BEHAR: ...how dare you do that?
GIVENS: Right. No. And then his friends started commenting on it. And, you know, oh, man, hey, you know, commenting on it. And then that -- he was upset then.
BEHAR: He was upset that night?
Did he hit you then?
GIVENS: No, not that night. A couple of days later.
BEHAR: A couple of days later?
BEHAR: So he was ruminating for the couple of days maybe?
GIVENS: Yes. I think his friends -- well, you know, everybody -- you know, you're young. You want to be -- he wanted to be cool and a man and macho and, yo, man, you know what she made you look like, whatever. Whatever.
BEHAR: And then Sat -- what happened on Saturday?
GIVENS: And then I think he was on the roof one morning. And somebody came (INAUDIBLE) and said you've got to get him off the roof. And he was throwing plates and...
BEHAR: Throwing plates off the roof?
GIVENS: ...things that became our -- not off the roof. Once he got -- I got him downstairs and back in the house and throwing things. And we all ended up -- a few of us. Myself, my mom was there, my sister, somebody else -- we all ended up in a laundry room off the kitchen with two little -- our two little Rottweiler puppies and hid out, which is -- became sort of the norm for us.
BEHAR: Did he...
GIVENS: And that's the thing, it becomes your norm.
BEHAR: Did the marriage -- the marriage end at that point...
GIVENS: No. No, he was trying...
BEHAR: Or did it go -- it went on again?
GIVENS: ...to get me -- I left then. I left then. And I had a hard time leaving for myself. I was in that laundry room and my sister who, for me, is like right from heaven, was crying, hysterically crying. And I remember looking up. And there was a certain quiet in her eyes.
And she said, how long are you going to put us all through this?
BEHAR: So she saw something that you didn't?
GIVENS: Yes. Yes.
BEHAR: She was more tuned into the horror of it than you were.
GIVENS: Yes. The horror of it. Exactly. Yes.
BEHAR: This is from your memoir, "Grace Will Lead Me Home," which I was reading, about the public fallout from your marriage. This is what it said: "When my," -- this is quoted: "When Michael threatened casually and with conviction, 'I don't have to kill you, I'll make it so bad you'll want to kill yourself. You'll have to leave home. You won't feel safe anywhere.' I believed him wholeheartedly and his words proved prophetic."
Those are -- that's a warning. That's a -- that's a real warning there.
GIVENS: Well, you know what happens (INAUDIBLE)...
BEHAR: I'll make it so bad you'll want to kill yourself. GIVENS: What happened for me -- I don't know about other women. And I know you have people on talking later -- even talking now, you go back in time. I mean I can tell you -- I know -- I can see myself. I can feel myself in the bed when he called me up and said I've changed my mind, I'm not going to kill you, I'm going to make your life so bad and so miserable, you're going to slit -- I'm going to make you slit your own throat.
It's like it's been 20 years and I can sit here looking in your eyes and feel myself in that place.
GIVENS: It's -- it's a hard thing to get over. It was really hard for me. And people ask me why I talk about it. For me, if I can stop one person, shorten their time of healing -- I mean a lot of my time went to this in my life. I mean, when I was out of the woods, I experienced a serious sadness. It was like when I was finally safe and I was working, it was almost like your adrenaline had carried you through. And then finally, when there was no more adrenaline, I could see my life. I could see the horror that my sister...
GIVENS: And a sadness came over me.
And if I could -- if I can just shorten somebody's time for healing, I would do that.
BEHAR: Was there a moment in the relationship where he turned on you in this way?
You know, he said I'm going to make your life so miserable.
What was it about -- what was going on?
GIVENS: Well, I think, to tell you the truth, I think even the first time I was hit, it was a turn. I didn't see that first hit coming. I didn't see it coming.
BEHAR: Yes. You don't always see it coming.
GIVENS: And it became a game. It became a sick little game for him.
GIVENS: When he said I'm not going to fight any more, I'm just going to fight you. He didn't care about -- you know, it just be -- it...
BEHAR: I have to say again that Mike Tyson was never convicted for any abuse against...
BEHAR: ...against Robin Givens.
Oprah's message for Rihanna is loud and clear. Hear what she has to say in 60 seconds.
BEHAR: One of the most influential women in the world used her considerable power to speak up about domestic abuse.
Here's what Oprah Winfrey had to say to Rihanna.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM "THE OPRAH WINFREY SHOW," COURTESY HARPO PRODUCTIONS)
WINFREY: Chris Brown and Rihanna, if I were your friend, I would call you up and I would say give it some time, get yourself some counseling...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Both of you.
WINFREY: Take care of yourself.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right. Both of you.
WINFREY: Heal yourself first. And, also, love doesn't hurt. I'd say -- I've been saying this to women for years, love doesn't hurt.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
WINFREY: And if a man hits you once, he will hit you again.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's right.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
WINFREY: He will hit you again. I don't care what his plea is, he will hit you again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BEHAR: If Oprah was speaking to you, too, call the National Domestic Violence Hot Line now. The number is 1-800-799-SAFE. That's 1-800-799-7233.
When we come back, Denise Brown -- she's got a message of her own for those who assault their partners.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Chris Brown in court -- searing new details about his alleged attack on Rihanna.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM "TODAY," COURTESY NBC)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Horrific new details emerge from the night he allegedly assaulted his pop star girlfriend.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM "THE EARLY SHOW," COURTESY CBS)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Singer Chris Brown charged with attacking his girlfriend, singer Rihanna.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, COURTESY "EXTRA)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A new source telling us she secretly married Chris Brown.
Could it ruin the case?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, COURTESY TMZ)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've got video of Chris Brown playing basketball at Tyrisa's apartment in downtown L.A. Yesterday.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, two days after he want to court for two felonies, actually.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BEHAR: OK. Joining us now from New York is Denise Brown.
Denise's sister was Nicole Brown. We all know Nicole Brown Simpson, O.J. Simpson's former wife.
Denise is the founder of the Nicole Brown Foundation. It works to educate people about the dangers of domestic violence and to help families in crisis.
How are you?
DENISE BROWN, NICOLE SIMPSON'S SISTER: I am doing great. And I'm listening to all this information that you guys are talking about and it's amazing. It's so great to get out there. You know, you talk about the dirty little secret. And it is. It's just that -- a dirty little secret. And then you're talking about what Oprah said -- if they hit you once, they'll hit you again.
You can even go one step further, Joy, and you can say if they hit you once, they'll hit you again. And if they ever threaten to kill you, eventually one day they will.
BEHAR: Yes, I think so.
BROWN: You know, it's the cycle of domestic violence, which is about the power and control of one human being over another -- the verbal, the emotional, the psychological abuse, you know, the chipping away at one's self-esteem -- you're stupid, you're ugly, you're worthless, you're no good.
I'm sure you heard it Robin, you know, nobody is going to want you. I'm the best thing for you.
BROWN: And then that escalates into the physical violence, which is the hitting, the kicking, the punching, throwing up against the walls. And then, of course, the honeymoon phase. And that's the oh, baby, I'm so sorry. It's never going to happen again.
BEHAR: Yes. And it's consistently the same all the time.
GIVENS: The same thing. And like I said, you know, I mean...
GIVENS: She's absolutely right. The woman -- every woman tells the same, same story.
BEHAR: You know, 15 years ago, Denise, people hoped a photo of your sister would stop this in a way.
BROWN: Well, I...
BEHAR: And yet here we are again. Here we are again.
BEHAR: How do you respond to the fact that it doesn't seem to be improving?
BROWN: Well, see, my whole thing, when this first started, my whole thought right away initially was oh my God, we didn't learn 15 years ago. We didn't learn from the domestic violence, you know, that -- that happened, that was so public. She lost her life -- I mean the ultimate form of domestic violence is somebody being murdered, which my sister was. And, you know, we didn't learn from that.
And then I turned around and I thought, oh, God here goes the media again.
Why doesn't the media expose domestic violence like daily?
You know, there's a Domestic Violence Awareness Month, which is now being changed from October to May, but why isn't domestic violence awareness every single day?
Because four women lose their life every day to domestic violence, you know?
BEHAR: Yes. You know...
BROWN: Robin is still here to talk about it, which is -- thank God she's still alive to talk about it. And I always encourage victims of domestic violence who have survived, please talk about it because there's always that hope that -- light at the end of the tunnel that these other victims want to know.
BEHAR: Robin was saying...
BEHAR: Robin was saying that when she saw the picture of your sister, what, tell us that.
GIVENS: Well, no. You know, we've met for some time, Denise and I, but I have never shared this story with her. I was actually doing a -- doing a press junket for a movie. And with my younger son there. My mom happened to be visiting. And I was going from doing interviews down the hall just to our room and -- where she was keeping him.
And, Denise, I walked in the room one day, one -- at one point and my mother was on the couch crying, sobbing. And it was when Nicole had been killed. And she looked -- she looked at me and she said that could have been you. That could have been you.
BROWN: Oh. Yes, and it could have been. And thank God you got out. But, you know, your message is so powerful, Robin, because you are a survivor and you are speaking out. And more people need to hear from people that have survived...
BEHAR: Well, that's why we're doing...
BROWN: ...this horrific ordeal.
BEHAR: That's why we're doing this show.
GIVENS: Why -- I have a question for Denise.
GIVENS: And I -- you know, I was talking with somebody recently, a young woman. And I asked her, I said, what are you thinking about all this?
And she actually said, well, what did she say?
I mean she must have said something to him.
GIVENS: What -- and that's what I used to hear all the time -- well, what did you say?
You know, you've got such a big mouth and you've got a -- why don't you just give him some space?
BEHAR: Right. But you know...
BEHAR: If you read the...
BROWN: That's the whole misconception.
BEHAR: If you read the Internet now, there's some hostility toward Rihanna. They're saying she's -- she provoked Chris.
What do you make of that?
There's something about her -- her stiletto heel, that she hurt him?
GIVENS: Yes. I don't care.
BEHAR: What about that?
GIVENS: I don't know why that is. I mean I don't know why in our society that is, that we blame the victim. I don't care. We tell kids in the sandbox, no touching. I don't care what a woman says to you. I don't care which -- I've got two sons. I've got a 16-year-old -- about to be 16. I don't care what she says, what she does, you do not hit. It is unacceptable.
BEHAR: But don't you think we should be educating women not to -- to hit them, also -- not to hit a man, also...
BEHAR: ...because you might get the reaction?
BROWN: It's an assault on an individual. And that's what we need to treat it as. You know, you can get convictions in the court of law. People -- women are being abused in the courts of laws every single day, as well. I get e-mails all the time.
But what we need to do is we need to treat domestic violence as an assault on an individual. Once they say the word domestic violence, it seems like it's oh, it's no big deal, because somebody had to provoke. Somebody and something had to happen.
It's a choice that we make as individuals to either hit or not to hit. And that's the problem that we have here in our society. People are choosing the wrong thing. You know there's ways of communication. Angry people -- and what they need to do is they need to go to battery treatment programs, not anger management.
Angry people don't always hit their significant others or their girlfriends. GIVENS: That's true.
BROWN: Battery treatment programs is what people need. I spoke to a gentleman, Dr. Donald Dutton. He wrote a book, "The Batterer." He said right now, it would take three years for guys to get -- or people that are batterers to get that mindset to change.
And I'm sure that's even more. And our society does not take it serious enough...
BROWN: ...until, of course, there's a murder or there's a celebrity or something of that nature, which is really sad.
BEHAR: OK. Oh, Denise, Nicole's younger sister has written a Web exclusive. So go to CNN.com/larryking and click on blog to read Tanya Brown's relevant comments. And if you have a personal story you'd like us to share with our audience, that's the place to tell us.
Next, two people who know about abuse firsthand and what they're doing to stop it. There is help and hope.
BEHAR: Welcome back to LARRY KING LIVE.
We have some breaking news at this hour -- sad news. Ten people have been killed in a shooting spree in Alabama. It started in a neighborhood in Samson, a town of 3,000 people, about 15 miles north of the Florida border just after 5:00 Eastern time.
A witness described the scene this way: "He was shooting at just ordinary people going about their business."
We'll have more information as we get it. Now, let's get back to our topic, which is domestic abuse.
Joining us from Los Angeles is actress Erin Gray. You probably remember her from "Buck Rogers and Silver Spoons."
ERIN GRAY, ACTRESS: Hi.
BEHAR: She is a domestic abuse survivor and is on the advisory board of Haven House, which provides shelter and counseling for abused women and their children.
And Victor Rivers, he's an actor and an author and spokesperson for the National Network To End Domestic Violence. He witnessed his father's abuse of his mother.
Let me start with you, Victor.
What do you make of this Rihanna/Chris Brown story? VICTOR RIVERS, SPOKESPERSON, NATIONAL NETWORK TO END DOMESTIC VIOLENCE: Well, I mean, it's all too similar. You know it's a situation where, you know, I know that he -- you know, from his own words -- that he witnessed his mother's abuse from the time that he was seven to 12 years old.
He -- you know, he was hiding in closets and under the bed. And that is what a lot of young men and a lot of young boys, that's the message they get.
That was what I was witnessing as a child from the moment I was born.
BEHAR: Physical abuse of your mother?
RIVERS: Physical abuse, spiritual abuse, emotional abuse.
BEHAR: What do you mean by spiritual abuse?
RIVERS: You know, breaking down someone's self-esteem, just making them less of a person. And -- and even though I was personally abused in the process, it was much harder for me to witness what was going on with my mother, you know, at the hand of my father. And unfortunately, what's happening is that the majority of boys between the ages of 12 and 18 who are incarcerated for murder are there because they killed their mom's abuser.
I could very well be telling that same story. Except, in my neighborhood and in those times, guns were much harder to come by. So this is our most prevalent, yet most curable social disease. We can make a difference. I applaud you for having a man on the panel because, ultimately, that is the new solution to the old problem.
We need to have more men. Most men are good men. But we stand by silently when we know that our uncles, our teammates, our co- workers are --
BEHAR: Why is do men stand by silently? Not all men obviously.
RIVERS: There is -- one, there is a sort of code of silence. But there is still this misconception that domestic violence is strictly a woman's issue. It needs to be everyone's issue, because what begins in the home and relationships is the same violence that we fear on our school campuses, on our streets and in our world. I can tell you, 94 percent of the men incarcerated in our jails started out as victims or witnesses to family violence. It is a breeding ground.
BEHAR: It seems as though it is a breeding ground. Everybody who abuses has been abused, practically, all the time. Not 100 percent, but has witnessed abuse or abused themselves.
BEHAR: Yes. Erin, your situation, you saw your mom abused also?
GRAY: Yes. BEHAR: Right. Then you survived emotional and sexual abuse as a child?
BEHAR: Then you were in an abusive marriage, same sort of syndrome we are discussing here.
GRAY: In my situation, it was more elusive it was more emotionally abusive. He didn't hit me. It was always walking on egg shells emotionally, never knowing when, trying to take care of him, trying to make sure that everything was all right. Because I knew there was a trigger there, but I didn't necessarily think he was going to hit me. I just knew that there was -- I was -- he was dealing with post-traumatic syndrome.
BEHAR: Of his own.
GRAY: Of his own. He had come back from Vietnam. The very first week that we were married, I woke up in the middle of the night and witnessed him killing an imaginary person in our bed. That was the first time I went, oh, he is not the boy I knew in high school. Something's wrong. Something is different. That was my first indication that there was, you know.
BEHAR: But you stayed?
GRAY: I did, because I wanted to take care of him. I wanted to love him. I thought love would solve everything.
BEHAR: I think Robin has a similar story with Mike, right?
BEHAR: Love was going to conquer everything.
BEHAR: It's some kind of a fantasy.
GRAY: Also I thought, I'm strong. I can do this. You know, if I just love him, he is a good person. He certainly was when I knew him in high school. This wonderful heart, great dreams.
GIVENS: Nobody understands him like I do.
BEHAR: Do you think it is harder to walk out on emotional abuse instead of physical. At least when he hits, you know. You know what it is.
GRAY: I think -- well, it certainly was for me. I think if he had hit me, I would have been out in a second. For me it was more --
BEHAR: But the chipping away at you?
GIVENS: It's hard to say that. It's hard. You don't know. GRAY: I don't really know.
GIVENS: I agree so much. You do -- your self-esteem gets so deteriorated, your character, your sensibilities emotionally. You don't know up from down.
BEHAR: Which comes first, the low self-esteem or does it come after the chipping away makes the self-esteem lower?
GRAY: Mine wasn't so much chipping away of self-esteem as it was that he would re-trigger my having been abused as a child. What happens is you shut -- the pain is so much that you have what is called muted senses, where you have like a form of amnesia. So if you go to that place, it is so painful that you can't feel it. If you felt it, you would dissolve into 1,000 pieces.
So you have what happens as a child to protect yourself. You shut down. So there was a period of time where I didn't speak for three weeks.
BEHAR: As a wife or as a child?
GRAY: As a child. Later on, in an unhealthy relationship, he knew what to say, just the right thing to say that suddenly I would disappear. I could just feel myself not be there. I had no voice. I couldn't talk. I didn't know how to defend myself verbally or protect myself.
BEHAR: He knew what buttons to push? Like a little dance that goes on?
GRAY: He knew what buttons to push. It was.
BEHAR: The stresses of every day life, especially in a bad economy, have an impact on domestic abuse. That's next.
BEHAR: Welcome back. In the aftermath of Chris Brown's alleged assault on Rihanna, the couple vacationed together in a Miami home loaned to them by Sean P-Diddy Combs. Ellen Degeneres pressed him about this on her show. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEAN COMBS, PUFF DADDY: I know both of them. It is my house. I am allowed to give my house to who ever I want.
ELLEN DEGENERES, "ELLEN": Sure.
COMBS: Number two is that I am the type of person that I don't cast a stone or cast a judgment on anybody.
COMBS: If a friend or friends ask me for a favor, then I am going to be there for a favor, as long as I know that the energy of the favor is positive for two people to sit down and talk about a situation they're in. It was a dark time for them. I was there more as a support.
DEGENERES: I don't believe in judgment either. I don't want any girl out there thinking it is OK to go back to a guy who hit her. I don't want any girl thinking --
COMBS: You wasn't in their car. I wasn't in their car. It isn't right for him to put his hands on her or her to put her hands on him. We don't know what the problem is. We need to pray for them and we need to do things to support them. That's all I want to say about that.
DEGENERES: I agree.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BEHAR: Victor, let me ask you, what do you make of that?
RIVERS: Well, this is really like the third time I have heard some one speak out -- a man speak out, a friend or a colleague of -- of Chris Brown's that called it a situation.
BEHAR: You don't think it is a situation.
RIVERS: No, it is not a situation. It is a violent episode that occurred. I don't care if she was reading his cell phone, if something else had happened, the bottom line is that that does not give you the right to put your hands on a woman, or to disrespect her or to do a lot of other things. So this is an opportunity that -- that one, Chris Brown has to be held accountable. He should hold himself accountable and should be held accountable by the system.
But because he is 19, he also has the opportunity to get help to change that behavior, and hopefully, down the line, that maybe he can become a spokesperson, you know, about his behavior, and talk to young boys and those -- those fans of his that he has, to say this is unacceptable behavior. I was wrong. I watched my mother being beaten the same way. And I pledge not to do it again.
BEHAR: Robin, how do you react to that statement?
GIVENS: This is -- it's hard for me. It's really hard. So I'm so glad that you took the question. I have to say that honestly, because I used to hear, you know, Michael's friends say, you're my wife and I can do what I want with you. You are my wife, you know. I'm talking about Michael.
But it is so -- it's tough. This is tough what you are hearing. And the signals that are being sent are very, very tough, because when you have people -- Chris Brown is three years older than -- four years older than my son. You know, my son loves him. It was very difficult for him to process, as much as he is involved in sort of our movement, this movement of violence against women -- I mean it is sort of hard to process your hero doing this terrible, terrible thing. But you can't send -- you have to be careful sending that message that it's OK in any respect, that it is a situation, that they were somehow fighting. They're not fighting with a man. A man is hitting you. You are not fighting. You know?
BEHAR: Some people are now saying, well, we don't know what happened. That's why I used the word alleged, because he was not convicted.
GIVENS: But he apologized. Maybe I don't know all of the details. And you know we spoke about this before. I want to be careful not to comment on anybody's life. But, from what I understand, he did apologize and did say he was going to seek help and therapy. I agree with you, that you can turn this around, where, all of a sudden, my son, and all those young men out there are looking at -- looking at him. He can stand up and really pave a way for healthy, healthy, healthy men, which I am determined to give the world.
I have two young boys. I am going to give good husbands and good fathers to the world. I'm determined.
BEHAR: OK, thanks to Erin Gray and Victor Rivers. Are Chris Brown and Rihanna back together? Are they married? Is a plea-bargain in the works? "Extra's" Carlos Diaz has the answer in 60 seconds. Thank you.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is Chris Brown ready to cop a plea deal? Is Rihanna guilty of hitting Chris? Did they secretly get married? A source telling "Extra" Brown and Rihanna did in fact tie the knot. Hollywood lawyer, Trent Copeland says if even if that is true, it will not provide Brown a legal loophole.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BEHAR: Welcome back to LARRY KING LIVE. I'm Joy Behar, sitting in for Larry tonight. There's so much information surrounding the Rihanna/Chris Brown case. What's fact? What's fiction? "Extra's" Carlos Diaz is here on the rumor patrol to help us. Hi Carlos.
CARLOS DIAZ, "EXTRA": So much. So much.
BEHAR: There's a lot of stuff going on and a lot of sensationalizing going on, which I don't know if that helps.
DIAZ: Right. That is the thing too. Everyone has their opinion on this. The funny thing is I have covered so many news stories and so many court cases, from Anna Nicole Smith on down the line, and I always find it interesting where I can give new information to people. In this case, people are so glued to this, because domestic abuse is so prevalent in so many people's lives, that people are following this so just insatiably.
They know the facts, you know, almost before we give them to them, because, they're on top of this, because it affects people.
BEHAR: Very prevalent and intractable, it seems. It doesn't change. You heard Denise and you heard Robin. It continues. It's pretty upsetting.
DIAZ: There are people yelling at the TV in the green room right now. There are people that are so emotional about this in this building right now. There is no way that Chris Brown's camp could have foreseen this kind of reaction to what is going on. There is no way they could have said, there will be a special on Larry King; Oprah Winfrey will do a show. There's just no way.
BEHAR: It's a jumping off point for the topic. Let me just shed something out to you, because police say a text message touched off the Chris/Rihanna altercation, that the reports are the message came from Chris Brown's manager, Tina Davis. What is with that?
DIAZ: Yes, that is the thing. This is where it gets really unusual. Tina Davis turns 40 this month. She is the one who allegedly sent the text message to Chris. Chris Brown is 19 years old. They allegedly have been having a relationship since he was 16 years old. That's what set Rihanna off. She did not like that, and this or that. And she kind of went at him. Then that's when it all --
BEHAR: Is that true? What does Tina Davis say?
DIAZ: We've been trying to reach her for comment. There is no comment on her end about this whole thing. That was the big mystery.
BEHAR: That's the rumor. This is what touched the thing?
DIAZ: There have been several reports, and it's in the police report, that she is the one mentioned in the police report as the one who sent the three-page text. That was the big mystery until today, who sent this mysterious text message that sent off Rihanna for this whole thing.
BEHAR: I see. What is the buzz about a possible plea deal?
DIAZ: That is the thing. Every day that Chris Brown is -- you know every day until April 6th, which is the next court date, Chris Brown is found guilty in the public eye. You can see it on the show right now. So his people want a plea deal as soon as they can. They're talking right now to the prosecutors, to the state, as far as maybe getting a plea deal in the works. That is the best thing for Chris Brown right now, to plea down. He does not want any jail time. He does not want to cop to a felony. He wants a misdemeanor.
BEHAR: Let me point out that Chris Brown has been charged in the case, but he has not been convicted.
Next, what do you tell your children who love Chris Brown and buy his music? Should they know about any of the news that is going on? Some help after the break. Stay with us.
BEHAR: We welcome back Robin Givens and Denise Brown. Joining us are clinical and forensic psychologist Anne Katz, who specialize in the issue of domestic abuse, and Jeannine Pirro; she's a former district attorney, host of her own show, a leader in the field of domestic abuse prosecution.
Let me start with you, Dr. Katz. You say there is a difference between female aggression and male abusiveness. Can you explain?
DR. STAN KATZ, PSYCHOLOGIST: Everyone was throwing this around, like there was violence in the car and she may have hit him or provoked him. Let's make a distinction right away. Women can be aggressive with men, but they're not abusive. Here is the difference, abuse contains intimidation, control and coercion.
BEHAR: It's a power thing.
KATZ: A woman gets into a guy's face. She may even spit at him. She may even stand right there with him. But it's the power and control and coercion that really classifies as abuse. We have to make a distinction. Everybody can be aggressive. Lots of aggression in couples, intimate aggression. There's a difference between aggression and abuse. We must clarify it.
BEHAR: Jeannine, let me ask you something. There is this cycle that we talked about with Robin and Denise. We discussed it quite a bit. How do you break this cycle of abuse? Do you have any ideas?
JEANNINE PIRRO, DOMESTIC VIOLENCE PROSECUTION EXPERT: Put them in jail. Stop this hogwash about treatment and intervention and getting everybody together. You don't get the victim together with the abuser. To what? To try to --
PIRRO: It's not a situation. It's a crime. The sooner we recognize that, whether we talk about abuse or aggression, it doesn't matter. It's against the law. You hit someone, you go to jail.
BEHAR: Remember the bad old days when the cops would come to your house, and they couldn't take the guy to jail because the woman would not press charges. She was scared to do it. That has changed.
PIRRO: Understand, 30 years ago, in most states in this country, it was not a crime to beat your wife, Joy. So what we've got is a society that's just starting to realize it is a crime. We're coming out of the dark ages.
But what we've got to do with this case, Joy, is go forward with it, even if she doesn't testify. The DA filed two felony charges after they reunited. The DA knows what he's dealing with. He can go forward and prove this case. Now he's got to do it.
BEHAR: What about this plea deal? What do you think of that?
PIRRO: I think it's horrible. I think it sends a message in such a high-profile case that you cannot just beat a woman and bite a woman, but choke her almost to the point of unconsciousness. And I've dealt with enough woman who've been choked and end up dead, homicide as a result of strangulation. These people need to be made accountable. We don't apologize for them. We don't let them buy their way out of it, or sweet talk their way out of it.
BEHAR: She comes from a DA's position. You're a therapist. What's your point of view?
KATZ: Once again, we have to send a strong message it's not appropriate. Aggression is not acceptable. However, we need to treat these people. We need to educate our kids. When you start in the schools, educate our children about violence, about control and domination. If you grew up in a home where you saw your father beat your mother, what you learned was conflict resolution was through violence. You learned that men and women had a dominant/submissive role.
We have to change that. We have to educate. We have to treat. The problem is it's complex treatment. A lot of these guys really don't want to change. What they're defending against is their manhood. They believe -- this is a secret code, that men should dominate women. It has religious underpinnings from way back, about the man is the king of the castle. That woman better toe the line.
Men who come into treatment with me would tell me, she should know her place. We have to start re-educating them.
BEHAR: What about the connection between hitting your child to discipline a child and domestic abuse. A lot of people say, I'm going to give him a little spanking if he acts bad. This is the only way to teach him. What do you say to that?
KATZ: First of all, people who abuse their spouses abuse their children. We know that.
BEHAR: Not necessarily.
KATZ: We know that there's a higher instance of children who are abused by spousal abuse. However, we also know that people who abuse their children don't abuse their spouses.
BEHAR: We're not talking about just abuse of a child. I'm talking about a little spanking.
GIVENS: That's when my mother -- she tells us that's when she finally decided to leave. My mother literally -- yes, she said she'd have a bloody nose. But she said it was when he spanked me on the butt that she realized, oh, my god, he's going to begin to spank her.
PIRRO: Violence is learned behavior. Children learn early on that that is the way to revolve conflict. It spills out into the streets, Joy. So whether it's beating the children or beating a spouse, it's learned behavior. We are a violent society in this country, in spite of all the advances. We are extremely violent. A woman is more likely to be killed by a member of her family, especially a spouse, than any other category of person.
GIVENS: What scares me here is the danger of cruel people, the people -- I have kissed who are cruel. I think it's a terrible -- I want to ask you.
KATZ: There's a distinction between people who spank their children in a controlled way and people who lose their temper. We're talking about anger management. We're talking about emotional regulation. People can't emotionally regulate, they have no impulse control. So some people will say, I'm going to spank you if you do this. That's a very different thing than intimidating, controlling, coercing your wife.
GIVENS: I'm talking about seeing Chris Brown, somebody who is cool, who my son would think is cool, doing this.
KATZ: A role model?
BEHAR: Again, I have to point out that this is an allegation. Chris Brown has not been convicted. His next day in court is April 6th. We want to remind you that help is available. The National Domestic Violence Hotline is 1-800-799-SAFE. That's 1-800-799-7233. For a complete list of help lines, including ones in your area, log on to CNN.com/LarryKing and click on the blog link.
More after this.
BEHAR: OK. Denise Brown is still on with us. I'd like to ask you a question, Denise. Do you think that in these hard economic times, there's going to be more domestic abuse? I mean, is there a connection in your --
BROWN: There have been more calls to domestic violence shelters, to the hotline across our country because of the hard economic times. People are losing their jobs. The violence is escalating at home. People don't know what to do. They are losing their homes. They're out in the street.
Yes, domestic violence is escalating 100 percent. The thing we have right now is I've become the spokesperson for a program that's called EasyMod123.com. What it does is a doe it yourself loan modification program that -- where a home owner can go in there and educate themselves. I'm all about education and prevention of domestic violence. If somebody can be educated on how to do things themselves, and get in there and become knowledgeable that you're not going to be harassed by these individuals that are going to be calling you, the banks, the -- you know, the creditors and things like that -- if you know how to do it yourself, I think it can stop a lot of this. And if you can stay in your home, this is the one program that's going to be able to keep you in your home, hopefully, and you can do that ourself. BEHAR: Thank you very much for that, Denise. Before we go, I just want to ask you, what do you want to say to the kids out there?
KATZ: I think the kids have to know that celebrities are just singers, actors, dancers. They're not special people. They have lots of problems. They're not role models in every way. They're only role models in those small aspects. They have the same problems we have. And they need to get help for their problems like everyone else.
BEHAR: Your last word?
PIRRO: I think most important is for a woman who's been battered, she needs to understand that, you know, hope springs eternal and maybe the last beating is indeed the last beating. Statistically, she's more likely to be beaten again. My fear is that Rihanna is in even more danger by denying the reality of what's going on.
BEHAR: Talking about this bad economic times, it's a little scary. People are home. They drink more. It's a little scary out there.
KATZ: More stress.
BEHAR: Women should be even more alert than they normally might even be.
KATZ: Seek out help.
PIRRO: Have a safety plan. Know if things get bad, that you can get out, who you can call. Have an extra phone. Have a plan to extricate yourself.
BEHAR: OK. Very good. Anything you want to add for a second?
GIVENS: The one thing I'd like to say to Rihanna, actually; as difficult as this all is, she does not have to answer to the media. She doesn't have to explain it. She has to take care of herself. I did an interview at a time where I should not have done one.
BEHAR: Very good. Thank you all very much. Go to CNN.com/LarryKing if you have something to say about domestic abuse. While you're there, read Tanya Brown's powerful commentary on the subject. If you need help, there are resources listed there for you. Don't wait. Get help now.
Tomorrow, President Bill Clinton will be here. I will not be here. But he will be here weighing in on President Obama's health care plan. Yes. Thanks for watching and thank you, Larry, as always, for letting me sit in your seat tonight. Time now for Anderson Cooper and "AC 360."