In the wake of her turning 30, conversations about Rihanna’s impending life milestone have moved away from the singer herself and re-focused on the fact her ex, Chris Brown, curiously and publicly wished her a happy birthday.
Alongside an image of Rihanna as a child, 28-year-old Brown wrote: “HAPPY BIRTHDAY @badgalriri.”
Despite the well wishes, Brown soon drew the wrath of the Rihanna’s most loyal fans, with many pointing to his 2009 domestic violence charge against his former girlfriend.
“So we just gonna pretend like 2009 didn’t happen?” one fan wrote.
“Just stop, Chris. This is getting sad,” another added.
On the eve of the 2009 Grammy Awards, Brown assaulted his then-girlfriend after the two had been dating for about a year. He pleaded guilty, accepting a plea deal that dictated he must attend one year of domestic violence counselling.
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Photos of Rihanna’s bruised, bloody and swollen face were leaked to TMZ soon after, making the story public.
Some three years later, they began dating again.
In a 2015 interview with Vanity Fair, Rihanna said she has struggled in the years since with becoming a kind of spokesperson for victims of domestic violence.
“It’s not a subject to sweep under the rug, so I can’t just dismiss it like it wasn’t anything, or I don’t take it seriously. But, for me, and anyone who’s been a victim of domestic abuse, nobody wants to even remember it. Nobody even wants to admit it. So to talk about it and say it once, much less 200 times, is like … I have to be punished for it? It didn’t sit well with me.”