Rihanna: How She Can Heal

Rihanna: How She Can Heal

02/13/2009 AT 07:15 AM EST

As Rihanna recovers from Sunday morning's alleged beating by her boyfriend, Chris Brown, the singer will need to tend to more than her bruises.

According to experts, a victim must surround herself with people who will not make her feel responsible for what happened.

"Friends, family, people who will give you good and positive information and not ask questions like, 'So, what were you doing?' " explains Rita Smith, executive director of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

Adds Sheryl Cates, CEO of the National Domestic Violence Hotline: "I'd say to Rihanna, 'You did not cause this.' "

Normal Response

As her physical wounds heal, Rihanna could still suffer sleeping problems, a change in eating patterns and a lack of concentration, says Smith. "She could also experience an exaggerated startle response," says Smith. "Somebody raising their hand to say hi near her might bring a reaction.

"This is a normal response to being a victim of violence. Those things will lessen and go away, but they'll be around for a while," adds Smith.

Joining a support group or speaking with a counselor involved in a domestic violence program can aid in healing, says Sue Else, president of the National Network to End Domestic Violence.

"Feeling like there is safety net around you is going to help that," says Else. "Feeling like you're not in this alone – that you didn't do anything to cause it."

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