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Behind the Curtain at TMM

Can Love & Abuse Co-Exist?

Singers Rihanna and Chris Brown perform on stage during Z100's Jingle Ball at Madison Square Garden on December 12, 2008 in New York City. Scott Gries/Getty Images hide caption

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Scott Gries/Getty Images

After leaving work yesterday, I boarded the bus home from the subway station. I took a seat in front of two young people — a guy and a girl. They were friendly and seemed to know each other well, although not intimately (possibly neighborhood friends, or old high school buddies). Both appeared to be no older than 20.

Not long into the bus ride, the girl began to tell the guy how she had become upset with her boyfriend (and father of her child) after he grabbed and pulled her by her long, braided hair. She was so upset with him that she ... "stopped calling him for a few days."

"That's all?," he replied. "You were upset with him for that?"

Of course (and this is when I officially begin eavesdropping), I'm thinking, what does this kid mean by, "that's all?"

He then tells the female friend that the two of them could've never been successful in a relationship. Why? Because the guy pal believes that getting a little "rough" with his own girlfriend — as in more than just a tug of the hair — is sometimes necessary.

She responds by telling the male pal that her boyfriend, too, likes to occasionally hit her a "couple of times ... just to get his anger out."

But, she always has the last word.

"After he's finished, he'll let me get in one good hit [on him]," she boasted.

He tells her that's ridiculous, and that's just not how it should work.

"She just has to take that s—-," describing his very different rules of engagement.

Fast-Forward ...

Not so coincidentally, today we aired a conversation with our panel of Moms on domestic violence among teens. It largely focused on the alleged fight between R&B superstar couple Chris Brown, 19, and Rihanna, 21, two weeks ago. Unauthorized police photos of what appears to be a battered and bruised Rihanna have since been leaked to the public and are making their rounds on the Web as investigators look into Brown's role in the incident.

Given today's chat, Michel Martin all but insisted that I write about this. And, I have to admit, I was conflicted about doing so ... Just as I was conflicted about exactly what my role should have been as a witness to, although not a participant in, the conversation between the two youngsters on the bus.

Was it my place to interrupt and, by doing so, intervene?

"Excuse me ... but both of you have issues and need serious help ..."

These conversations seem easier to have one-on-one, but taking on two individuals in the same setting — both with two distinct sets of troubles — can be touchy.

What would you have done?

And, as the TMM piece touched on today, how is it that an act that outrages some can be so passe to others?

(Interesting tidbit The two bus mates made no mention of the alleged Chris Brown-Rihanna incident; their chat didn't at all seem to be driven by the story, which currently dominates pop culture news. They were merely exchanging thoughts, and somewhat lightly, based on their own experiences.)

You might remember that this show was launched as a "safe place to have difficult conversations." If nothing else, it affirms that Tell Me More is far from being finished with this subject. We're taking suggestions on where to step next with this. We have a few ideas, but we want to hear from you...

So, feel free to tell us your thoughts and experiences. You can leave them in the comment thread below, or if you feel lead to share something sensitive and would not leave it in this public space, which we understand, you can also call our comment line at 202.842.3522.

And, of course, if you or someone you know needs help, please consider the following resources:

The National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline: (866) 331-9474

The National Domestic Violence Hotline: (800) 799-SAFE (7233)