By DeWayne Wickham
The police report of what happened in the car that night was chilling.
There was a violent confrontation between a young woman and the young man behind the wheel that caused the woman to bleed profusely. The front seat of the vehicle was drenched with her blood, police said.
I'm not talking about singer Chris Brown's alleged attack on his girlfriend, Rihanna. I'll get to that later. What I just described is what happened the night my father took my mother's life with a gun. His attack on her was the ultimate act of domestic abuse he committed before turning the weapon on himself.
I was just 8 years old the night I lost my parents - much too young to know anything about the social disease that has come to be called "domestic abuse." I didn't know then that such behavior usually starts subtly, with harsh talk, a push or a slap, then grows into something much worse.
At the time of my parents' death, I wasn't aware that what happened that night was probably the culmination of a string of abusive acts by my father that produced endless apologies and broken promises never to do it again.
I didn't understand the warning signs of domestic abuse then as I do now. I didn't realize how many lives it touches beyond those of the victim and perpetrator - even though it shattered my childhood.
Now I know better. And it is this heightened awareness that makes me wonder what is going on in the lives of Brown, the 19-year-old soul singer, and his 21-year-old R&B songstress girlfriend, Robyn Rihanna Fenty.
Los Angeles prosecutors have charged Brown with "assault likely to cause bodily injury and making criminal threats" for the Feb. 8 incident that left Rihanna badly beaten. Rihanna told police Brown became enraged and started hitting her after she questioned him about his relationship with another woman.
The blows caused Rihanna's "mouth to fill with blood and blood to splatter all over her clothing and the interior of the vehicle," police said in court papers.
Brown, driving the car with one hand and hitting Rihanna with the other, told her, "I'm going to beat the (expletive) out of you when we get home," according to Rihanna's statement to police.
At one point during the alleged beating, Rihanna said, Brown threatened to kill her.
In a photo taken of Rihanna shortly after the incident, she looks like someone used her face as a punching bag.
It's not clear yet just how the criminal proceedings in this case will turn out. So far, Brown has said only that he is sorry for what "transpired" and that he is seeking counseling.
He's scheduled to be arraigned April 6. If convicted, he could be released on probation or get up to four years and eight months in a California prison.
But as is so often the case in domestic abuse cases, Rihanna has gone back to the man she's accused of beating her so badly. In fact, the two performers are recording a love song - a duet about the trials and tribulations of love - the Los Angeles Times reported.
I don't know how many second chances my mother gave my father before their tragic end. But I know this much: A second chance is one too many for the person who savagely beat Rihanna.