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Posted at 03:00 AM ET, 02/29/2012

Reese Witherspoon on domestic violence, Chris Brown and Rihanna


Reese Witherspoon at the Gaylord Hotel on Tuesday. (Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images)

Reese Witherspoon came to the Beltway Tuesday to talk about domestic violence — which meant fielding our questions about Chris Brown.

Yet another debate about showbiz hypocrisy erupted when Brown — who pleaded guilty to assaulting his then-girlfriend Rihanna three years ago — got a plum gig and warm welcome on this month’s Grammy broadcast (and later mocked his “haters” on Twitter). Confusing the issue further: The former couple’s seeming reconciliation — he lends a vocal to her remix of “Birthday Cake.”

Her take? Witherspoon chose her words carefully.

“Every case is different,” the movie star told us. “There’s obviously room for growth and change in lots of people’s lives. I don’t know either one of them, so I can’t really comment about their lives. But it was one of those experiences that actually created a great opportunity to talk to your kids about domestic violence issues.”

As a longtime advocate for women’s and children’s causes, Witherspoon said she’s helped several girlfriends go through similar situations. “It’s very personal to me. There’s just a real need for people to speak out.”

The actress, 35, teamed up with Avon five years ago and, between acting gigs, has helped raise $40 million for prevention programs. She showed up Tuesday in a stylish-but-sober black dress and very high heels for the 2nd World Conference of Women’s Shelters at the Gaylord hotel at Maryland’s National Harbor, where 1,500 women from 96 countries are discussing how to decrease violence against women around the globe through education programs, social media and even aps that turn smart phones into alarms.


Chris Brown and Rihanna on stage together in 2008. (Lucas Jackson/Reuters )
“People need to understand this is happening in one in three households in America,” she said. “We have to end the cycle, because we’re teaching children to be victims and abusers.”

Witherspoon said her own kids — Ava, 12, and Deacon, 8 — know about Brown and Rihanna’s history, which led to a dinner-table discussion about what’s appropriate behavior and what’s not, what they could do in the same situation, and how they can be advocates for their friends. “I think it’s very powerful for children to know they can make a change in their community and schools,” she said.

By  |  03:00 AM ET, 02/29/2012

 
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