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Years before the violent assault that would shake Chris Brown’s good-guy image to the core, he revealed that as a child, he witnessed domestic violence first-hand – against his mother.

In a 2007 interview with GIANT magazine, he said of his stepfather:

“He used to hit my mom…. He made me terrified all the time, terrified like I had to pee on myself. I remember one night he made her nose bleed. I was crying and thinking, ‘I’m just gonna go crazy on him one day…’”

An 11-year-old Brown made a promise to his mother. He vowed that he would go to jail by age 15 for killing his abusive stepfather. “I just want you to know that I love you,” he told her. “But I’m gonna take a baseball bat one day while you at work, and I’m gonna kill him. […] I hate him to this day.”

Chris Brown gets 5 years probation

But apparently that hate wasn’t enough to keep Brown from perpetuating the cycle of violence when earlier this year he beat up then-girlfriend Rihanna on the night of the Grammy Awards. Yesterday, just before his preliminary hearing was set to begin, Chris Brown pled guilty to felony assault of Rihanna. And in what some are calling a slap on the wrist or a case of “celebrity justice,” Brown was sentenced to 5 years of probation and 6 months of community service. That’s right: For allegedly choking, biting, and punching this young woman-leaving her face the bruised, bleeding, swollen mess that was exposed in a leaked police photo-Brown won’t spend a single day in jail.

So where is his mother, Joyce Hawkins, in all this? First and foremost, Brown is her son, making it unlikely that she wanted to see him sent to prison. However, as a woman who allegedly survived domestic violence herself, she may deeply sympathize with Rihanna. In March, she reportedly stood in court with tears in her eyes at Brown’s arraignment, where he was charged with felony assault and making criminal threats. But thus far, she has yet to speak out and appears to be standing by her boy.

Now that all is said and done, is Hawkins doing the right thing, or does she need to be harder on him? If you found out that your son had committed a violent crime, what would it take for you to publicly condemn him or – worse yet – turn him in? Tell us what you think in the comments.

Take a look at our celebs in court gallery below:

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