Love the Way You Lie: Eminem & Rihanna on the Vicious Cycle of Domestic Violence

Love should not hurt. Yet bad romances seem to be as common in this world as the ones true romantic stories as made from.

In his new controversial music video, “Love the Way You Lie,” Eminem depicts a glance into his relationship with his two-time, ex-wife Kim Mathers.

Starring Megan Fox and Dominic Monaghan, the video seamlessly intertwines love and violence. The video opens with a couple (Monaghan and Fox) sleeping peacefully together. Next, they are violently fighting, tossing bed sheets around and the viewers see Fox’s character overpowered into early submission. Later, the couple is seen pressed up against a wall, where the man punches his fist into it, before they break into a passionate kiss.

The entire time scenes like this go on throughout the video, Rihanna sings the chorus which includes the phrase, “That’s all right because I like the way it hurts.”

Lady GaGa made a hit single out of bad romances, this is the fourth number one hit single for Em, and seventh for Rihanna — but is this really alright? Or does the video glamourize domestic violence?

It’s the question that has been a buzz since the video’s release (first week of August 2010).

With the video crossing over 6 million views in 24-hours and 15 million views on YouTube in three-and-a-half days, it has an audience and people are paying attention.

In an interview with MTV, Stephanie Nivla, the executive director of sexual assault and trauma at the resource center called Day One, said, “The most important thing the video is doing is raising the topic of dating violence among young people.”

She praised the clip for accurately depicting a pattern that is very common in abusive relationships: love turns to violence which turns into passion with turns back into violence.

A vicious cycle that keeps repeating itself:-

Just gonna stand there
And watch me burn
But that’s alright
Because I like
The way it hurts
Just gonna stand there
And hear me cry
But that’s alright
Because I love
The way you lie
I love the way you lie
I love the way you lie

What’s exceptionally interesting about the video, is that both Eminem and Rihanna have a history with domestic violence. Which again, begs the question of whether the video is a statement that glorifies it or stands against it by accurately illustrating it.

In the four-minute reel, fire is an constant symbol and at the end of the video, Fox extinguishes it, both Monaghan and Eminem get engulfed by it and Rihanna crumbles to the floor in front of it.

According to Nivla, people who have been victimized tends to feel and become ‘smaller;’ they are at a loss for their inner power and strength.

In the same interview with MTV, Monaghan had said,

“I think we tried as hard as we could to not glorify the violence, to try and explain that this was a relationship that is by no means ideal and a relationship that probably should have ended a lot sooner than it did… The concept of ‘Love the Way You Lie’ was essentially a look at the relationship that Eminem was in with his wife, Kim, so I kind of felt like I was playing Eminem a little bit, and Megan Fox was kind of playing Kim.

“It’s the story of them getting to know each other, and it’s the story of their tumultuous relationship, and it was the story of the breakdown of their relationship,”
he went on. “Ultimately, what I think he’s trying to say in the song … is that he should have walked away a little bit quicker than he did and not let it get as messy as it did.”

The world has had plenty of glimpses into the disturbing and troubled relationship Eminem had had with Kim, but in the video, directed by Joseph Kahn, the line looks blurry for its troubling and seemingly conflicted message: the story of their tumultuous relationship in video against lyrics that talk about enjoying the pain.

There isn’t anything sexy, fun or cool about violence and destructive relationship.

So the question becomes,

  • Was this brought  about correctly in the video?
  • Does “Love the Way You Lie” glorify domestic violence? Or Does it not?
  • Did Josesph Kahn do a good job accurately depicting what the actors and Eminem sought for the video to represent?
  • If domestic violence is bad, then should Fox and Monaghan been cast? Or do they make it attractive?

To learn more about how you can preventing domestic violence or getting help for, visit or call 1-800-214-4150.


Sasha Muradali runs the Little Pink Book. She holds a B.S. in Public Relations from the University of Florida with a minor in Dance (’07) and an M.A. in International Administration from the University of Miami (’08). She loves Twitter and all things social media, so you should find her @SashaHalima or get a copy of the Little Pink Book delivered to your Kindle.

Copyright © 2009-2010 Sasha H. Muradali. All Rights Reserved.


  1. I think the video is a great way to raise awareness of domestic abuse, as mentioned above. I think it works because of Rhianna having a part in the song, and with Eminem trying to reshape his image (name of cd is Recovery).

  2. I love the video. I think it is a great song that has been given a bad rap. This shows the realities of “bad romances”. Abusive relationships are usually codependent and volatile on both ends. The video doesn't sugar coat domestic violence. A good number of times both partners struggle with removing themselves from the situation and that is what it shows. Eminem is showing the harsh truth about his past and what he has learned from the situation. I say kudos to both Rihanna and Eminem for tackling this tough issue.

  3. I agree with Ashleyellene. Kudos to all four of these people (performers and actors) for facing this issue head on. Nothing in the entire video or song glorifies domestic violence to me; it makes it REAL. Most of the time both partners have a part in the violence or abuse (emotional and physical) and unfortunately it is often mistaken for “a passionate relationship” by both parties. Just b/c the two actors are “glamorous” people does not mean they are making domestic violence into something glamorous. DV happens to poor people, rich people, well-educated people, good looking people, etc. Unfortunately it doesn't discriminate. It's time we made this a more open subject instead of shying away from it.

  4. Personally, I liked the video for the most part. I wasn't a fan of Rihanna in it. I thought she looks like she painted a clown's nose onto her hair and was just so … over the top. She didn't fit in to the rest of the video. She kinda looked like a 'diva' to me. Then again, she is, so eh.

    But back to the topic at hand, I definitely agree with you about Em trying to reshape his image and I think this is definitely a step in the right direction.

    That being said, quite a few people really question whether its a truly anti-domestic violence stance, or if it tried but inadvertently glorified it.

    I can see both points.

    Thanks for your comment Kasey! 🙂

  5. Hey Ash,

    Thanks for your comment. As I told Kasey above, I agree. I don't think it's as bad as some people are making it out to be. Rather, I think part of its appeal and why it's done so well in the viral video space, has been its ability to appeal to human nature and truly show the implications of 'bad romances' that revolve around the vicious cycle of domestic violence and passion/love.

    The only thing that I wasn't very fond of was Rihanna in the video. Just the way she looked to me, personally, it didn't in w/ the 'theme.'

  6. I agree. I didn't quite understand Rihanna in that role but I guess I somewhat understand her reasoning.

  7. Hi Amanda,

    Thanks for your comment 🙂

    I agree with most of what you said, except the actors part. Well, the thing is I'm not sure I agree or disagree. But I definitely can see where both yourself and Ashley are coming from.

    My thing is — because they are glamorous and beautiful people — I can see it as, oh domestic violence happens to all types of people BUT I can also see it as, that's so tragically beautiful because subconsciously the people portraying the instances happen to be beautiful.

    It's morbid I know, but it's another way to look at it — that, in fact, quite a few people see it is.

    I don't think there is a right or wrong answer or stance with this video because everyone will see it differently regardless of its intention.

    You're right, domestic violence doesn't discriminate and it's definitely time for people to start facing the problem in our society and start talking about it.

  8. Powerful video. Hot song and hot artists. Whoa! Love that Em is back on top. Good to see Megan getting some work. Nice collaboration too with Rihanna.

  9. Powerful video. Hot song and hot artists. Whoa! Love that Em is back on top. Good to see Megan getting some work. Nice collaboration too with Rihanna.