Ray Rice –
We have been inundated with reports, interviews, survivors sharing their story and repeatedly asked, “Why Didn’t She Leave?” The time comes when, as important and good as it is to analyze why a victim of domestic violence stays in an abusive relationship, we simply must stop spinning our wheels asking the same question over and over. Not forgetting what took place inside that elevator, it is time to move forward.
The NFL is being scrutinized; teams are finding various ways to either address the situation of domestic violence by their players or to skirt around the issue. We can stand around all day asking why a victim chose to stay; however, we must consider what the proper alternatives are now that it is time to move forward.
Power and control are the true driving forces of domestic violence. The abused victim being totally controlled by her perpetrator is given no time to move forward. She is riveted by fear and threats, hence imprisoned and convinced she will never escape this incarceration. Even if she can imagine a time to move forward, it is quite difficult for her to clearly and objectively design a plan to escape safely.
Our focus is twofold. While we absolutely must continue to ask questions and hear voices speaking out about their own abusive experiences, it is imperative that during the time society delves into exposing domestic violence and how it entraps, that we start asking even more important questions, such as, “Why does he abuse her?” or “What is the driving force behind domestic violence?”
I will probably catch some flak for my next comment, but nevertheless, I think it is something we must truly consider. Professional football has become known for violence. That is violence both on and off the field. When Michael Vick was arrested for the aberrant practice of dog fighting, including beating, hanging and killing dogs that did not perform to his expectations, this entire nation was in a total uproar. Every 9 seconds a woman is beaten by a spouse or intimate partner. Many more women die from domestic violence than dogs from fighting. One has to wonder how many of those running in dog fighting are going home to beat their wife? Is aggression a pattern?
Those of us who are involved in bringing awareness to domestic violence are fully aware that one of the first red flags of an abusive nature is harming an animal or a family pet. Yet, Michael Vick became the poster child for violence in professional football, off the field. Just last year we had a player murder is intimate partner and then travel to his home stadium to commit suicide. As a former victim of domestic violence, I can assure you what you see on television, in elevators or read on the Internet about intimate partner abuse and domestic violence is only minutia compared to the real levels of domestic violence going on in America every day. One in every four women in the United States will become a victim of domestic violence. Worldwide, that statistic climbs to one in every three women. I’m just curious why people showed more furor over the Michael Vick case than those cases involving a player physically beating his intimate partner or spouse. Yet, the public overwhelmingly supported O.J. Simpson, who was found “not guilty” in the case regarding the murder of Nicole Brown Simpson. She has made several 911 calls prior to her death, and law enforcement came out to find O.J. causing scenes.
It seems we have been talking in circles, in a confused manner trying to figure out domestic violence. It is time to move forward, getting down to the basics. What is domestic violence? Why does domestic violence occur? How can we educate the younger generation so that they can stop the vicious cycle? When will domestic violence stop being pushed aside for federal assistance and funding to establish shelters, education, counseling, awareness and relocation assistance? To this writer, it is flagrantly clear that our legislators need to jump on board in a stronger fashion, and rather than funding research on the reproduction habits of a tree frog, building a bridge to nowhere or packing pork fat into bills being introduced, let us direct all possible elements toward not only understanding domestic violence, but reducing, and perhaps eliminating this monster.
If you want to step in and help make a difference, look into my new book, BeLEAVEing-Safely Leaving Abusive Relationships. It has been designed to work as a guidebook for victims or struggling survivors of domestic violence. It is also full of valuable information for family and friends seeking to assist their loved ones in getting to safety.
Succinctly, it is time to move forward. When we are not moving forward, we are standing still. When we are standing still, we stagnate. So, let us all get on the same page, put together what we have learned before and since the Ray Rice scandal, and work together during this time to move forward. We owe it to too many victims whose lives were taken brutally and way to soon.
Carolyn S. Hennecy is the author of ORANGE BLOSSOM WISHES: Child Molested, Woman Abused – Her Victorious Journey to Freedom and her most recent book, a guide for victims of domestic violence, BeLEAVEing – Safely Leaving Abusive Relationships. She is also an international speaker, consultant and trainer.