Our media culture likes to discuss domestic violence…when it’s convenient. You may still hear the whispers of domestic violence discussion in the aftershock of the Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson stories, but I have chosen this moment to bring domestic violence into the light. I won’t, again, let the importance of this topic be dictated by the media ebbs and flows.
We exhaust people with the domestic violence-drenched headlines for weeks and weeks and weeks and drone on about the same cases of domestic violence. It would appear that we are under the illusion that domestic violence is only happening within the NFL or among the celebrities. USA today posted an article regarding the mixed messages that the NFL had been sending in regards to the domestic violence charges made against Adrian Peterson, acknowledging that “the league found itself instead at the white-hot center of a morality play about how a workplace in the public eye should respond to cases of alleged domestic violence.” (USA Today, 2014)
Of course, there is speculation and supportive research to suggest that athletes and not necessarily more prone to violence than non-athletes. Mitch Abrams, sports psychologist, said that a contributing factor to domestic violence among football players may be that they are desensitized to physical conduct because it’s “part of what they do all the time.” (LiveScience, 2014)
I challenge you to take a moment, to shift the heat away from the NFL and the relatively small percentage of athletes that have been charged with domestic violence and consider the origin. For a moment, consider the way we educate our young women with lectures and teachings with a bottom-line message of “How to keep from being abused” or “How to tell if you’re in an abusive relationship.” If you were raised in a home where you (man or woman) were taught, “We don’t hit,” then, good for you and good for your partner. But why are these not concrete psychoeducational applications? Where are the community and education based programs that teach young men and women, “How to deal properly with anger” or “How to cultivate healthy relationships”? Instead of funding programs that teach women how to protect themselves from men, why won’t we fund programs such as REACH Beyond Domestic Violence prevention efforts? This (and many other) agencies are in the business of protecting men and women against domestic abuse. What if we started earlier, worked hard and spoke louder about the importance of respect of one another?
If you or someone you know has already entered into an abusive relationship, please don’t hesitate any longer to call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or call (404) 699-5657 to speak with a representative from Achor Center, Inc. Stay tuned for our next post in the series about how to create a safe exit plan.