Domestic Violence Affects Everyone…Including You

People get angry. That will happen. Beating people up isn't the way to go about it.
People get angry. That will happen. Beating people up isn’t the way to go about it.

I detest domestic violence against women, children, defenseless people, and yes, men. This also includes same-sex domestic violence (I bet you didn’t think of that). The “outrage” and reaction over the NFL suspending Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice has provided me a few observations that got ignored.

Caught on tape: the main reason for the visceral reaction towards Rice was that his wife (then fiancée) and him were on tape when the incident happened. Had it not been on videotape, or TMZ getting their hands on every video sent to them, we wouldn’t have cared about the story.

It’s a CBA thing: there is no comparison between Josh Gordon and Rice’s situation. Gordon is a repeat offender of the league’s drug policy, which was collectively bargained with the NFL Players Association. The league and the players agreed to the policy and punishment for repeated substance abuse. Domestic violence does not fall under the CBA agreement. If it was, and if Rice was a repeat offender, then a harsher punishment would apply. Had the NFL  suspended Rice for more games, the NFLPA would have likely filed an appeal on Rice’s behalf, to reduce the suspension.

NFL Hall of Famer Jim Brown has a history of knocking women around. No one in the media is demanding that his Hall Of Fame bust be removed for his past actions. The national media has no problems celebrating a guy who was the greatest football player in his generation, a man who has worked tirelessly to end gang violence…only for them to dismiss the fact that he has a reputation when it comes to violence against women.

That’s troubling.

If a restraining order doesn’t stop a domestic abuser from attacking his victim again, then why would you think a pro sports league is going to handle this?

As our society goes, so goes everything else…following suit.

A culture of abuse creates a culture of shattered lives.
A culture of abuse creates a culture of shattered lives.

Society: I think it is hypocritical for many to expect the NFL to be a “moral” compass when it comes to domestic violence. There were many domestic violence incidents in the past involving professional athletes (Rae Carruth, Fred Lane, Brian Giles, Floyd Maywether, etc.). And if talking heads like Richard Deitsch, Sally Jenkins, or heaven forbid, Skip Bayless didn’t mention those individuals in the past, why now?

Because people saw a videotape of a guy knocking a woman out…and people are shocked.

Those who have been a victim of domestic abuse never had a camera taping what they endured…and for that, no one would have not cared.

It’s a joke to me on how everyone wants to get all sanctimonious and wag our finger at someone, because it’s an easy story and platform to do it.  But when a regular citizen is killed or seriously injured in a domestic dispute, we shrug our shoulders and say “that’s too bad.”

We need to stop lying about our level of concern about domestic violence, race, sex, and other serious topics. Let’s face it: we don’t care about those things, until it happens to us, or that person becomes a major news story.

Domestic violence is a societal issue that affects everyone…and not just those who are professional athletes. CEOs, blue-collar workers, a neighbor, or a family member have been either physically attacked or have been the attacker.  On an average, three women are killed every day in a domestic violence incident in the United States. That’s 1,095 who won’t live to see the next day.

Did you also know that 15.5 million American children live in a home where domestic violence takes place?

Do you even care about these silent victims? 

Shame on us for being hypocrites.

Everybody loses: I am a child of domestic violence. It happened several times as my parents separated, and ultimately divorced. It’s ugly, sad, and scary. I’m not a violent person in a physical sense, but those images of my father attacking my mother in my home is a permanent mental scar, for I have longed buried and moved on, but serves as an internal reminder.

I speak from experience…not from opinion. I diffused a contentious argument between my parents when I took a glass ashtray and slammed it on the kitchen floor. I thought both of my parents were going to kill me.

I wanted the shouting to stop. I wanted the nightmare to end.

It is a vicious cycle of events that long after it ends, it affects you. It’s not just women who are impacted…it’s children as well. I’m a male. I went through counseling as a teenager and post-college to battle “victim’s guilt” and the internal anger over it. I don’t know how to throw a punch, but I do get upset at myself at times and let it boil over internally.

The fear of falling into the debilitating cycle of domestic abuse is probably a major factor why at age 38 I’m still single and have never been in a relationship. Maybe it’s a good thing (?), but after 25 years, I have learned how to stop and assess my feelings and actions, and find non-violent ways to resolve them without the use of a gun, knife, hands, purse, carrier pigeon…you get the picture.

In my opinion, the media has ignored an important narrative regarding domestic abuse: educating the public about domestic abuse, the causes, and preventative measures to stop this cycle of needless violence. The “outrage” I could care less about. I want society to understand the sobering facts about domestic abuse as a in the United States and in Iowa.

“Outrage” does little. Information and facts drives the point home. Sadly, the statistics and the real battle against domestic violence got lost in stupid bloviating.

This is our fault. We clearly didn’t learn from Rae Carruth murdering the mother of his child and Fred Lane being gunned down by his wife.

The sports world is similar to society when it comes to facing and talking about issues like domestic abuse: we don’t want to deal with it. Expecting a pro sports league to do a job that the legal system is unable to stop is hollow…unless society take a more serious role in searching for ways to stop domestic violence.

Jay-Z (left) had an unfortunate incident with his sister-in-law. He never threw a punch at her. Film don't lie. Right, Beyonce?
Jay-Z (left) had an unfortunate incident with his sister-in-law. He never threw a punch at her. Film don’t lie.

As weird as it sounds, we can take a page from how rapper Jay-Z used his hands to “defend” himself from his sister-in-law Solange in an elevator…with a camera filming the whole thing. We laughed about the incident, but think about this:  Jay-Z could have easily landed a punch. And yet he didn’t, or he would be the one the entire world would be talking about and not Ray Rice.

Funny how the media never picked up on that perspective.

We’re better than that.

If you want to learn more about domestic violence in Iowa, I will refer to you these websites: 

Iowa Coalition Against Domestic Violence (@ICADV) – 3030 Merle Hay Rd. Des Moines, IA 50310 515.244.0828

Children and Families of Iowa (@CFI) – 1111 University Ave. Des Moines, IA 50314 515.288.1981

Iowa Legal Aid (in re legal questions/topics)

Polk County Crisis & Advocacy Services, Rape and Sexual Assault Program – 2309 Euclid Ave. Des Moines, IA 50310 515.286.3535

There are more shelters/services that help individuals affected by domestic violence. Please refer to this website for a list of services across the state of Iowa.


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