October Is Domestic Violence Awareness Month
Although October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, we have actually (I hope) gotten quite a bit more aware of domestic violence these past few months. We never know what action or incident is going to be a tipping point for an issue and cause it to dominate the news cycle. For domestic violence, apparently seeing Ray Rice carry his unconscious fiancée from an elevator in Atlantic City, then seeing the NFL’s original, minimal punishment before the video from the elevator itself showing Rice knocking her out was leaked, became the catalyst for this issue.
I have written about this issue in previous years (2009, 2012 on Domestic Violence alone and in 2010 and 2013 I combined Domestic Violence with Breast Cancer Awareness.) As I have stated previously, I do not know why this issue is one I feel so strongly about but it is.
The web site DomesticViolenceStatistics.org offers some very sobering statistics:
Every 9 seconds in the US a woman is assaulted or beaten.
Around the world, at least one in every three women has been beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused during her lifetime. Most often, the abuser is a member of her own family.
Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women—more than car accidents, muggings, and rapes combined.
Studies suggest that up to 10 million children witness some form of domestic violence annually.
Nearly 1 in 5 teenage girls who have been in a relationship said a boyfriend threatened violence or self-harm if presented with a breakup.
These are just a few of the Domestic Violence statistics and SafeHorizons.org has some more sobering facts.
Most of the time when people talk about Domestic Violence, it is meant as adult on adult violence but the reality is, child abuse is also a form of domestic violence. Wiki offers definitions for Intimate Partner Violence, Domestic Violence, and Family Abuse (including child and elder abuse.)
The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence offers some history:
Domestic Violence Awareness Month evolved from the first Day of Unity observed in October, 1981 by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. The intent was to connect battered women?s advocates across the nation who were working to end violence against women and their children. The Day of Unity soon became a special week when a range of activities were conducted at the local, state, and national levels.
As I noted above, the NFL seems to have helped the awareness efforts these last few months, albeit I’m sure it was not intentional. While the Ray Rice case has garnered the most attention, USA Today had this article yesterday covering their not-so-good history with domestic violence:
Since September 2006, law enforcement authorities have pursued 50 domestic violence cases against NFL players, including one for murder and at least five allegations of assaulting or choking pregnant women.
Three trends emerged:
–A brief suspension: In at least 14 cases, the league or the team suspended or deactivated the players, mostly for just one game. Only one of those was suspended more than two games prior to the league’s recent controversy involving then-Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice, who was suspended indefinitely after video surfaced that showed he punched his now-wife in the elevator of an Atlantic City casino.
–No suspension: In 16 cases, the league did not suspend the player, often in accordance with how prosecutors viewed those cases. Seven of those cases resulted in legal charges being dropped, plus one acquittal. Six others entered diversion programs to avoid prosecution.
–Grandstand justice: In 15 cases, players were released or not re-signed by their teams soon after their arrest and then never played another NFL game. These players often had marginal talent, but teams could make a show of their release by appearing to have a zero-tolerance policy toward domestic violence
While the NFL has gotten the lion’s share of publicity recently, the NBA and Major League Baseball are not immune from the problems. Sports Illustrated did this article about the NBA Domestic Violence policy a couple of days ago. It looks like Major League Baseball has started making some attempts at updating their policy as well, going from this article in July decrying their efforts to this from a couple of weeks ago on Joe Torre’s efforts to formulate a new policy for MLB.
We do not know how many of our friends and family have been victims (or perpetrators) of domestic violence. A few years ago I might have claimed no or very limited knowledge of this amongst my family and friends yet now I know that I have both family and friends who have been victims of this. These last two or three years, I have been getting to know a number of my second cousins. We have not been close since my maternal grandparents were divorced when my mother was two years old. I have one cousin I will never be allowed to know as she was killed by her husband nearly forty years ago.
I have no solutions but I will do all that I may to highlight this issue. All I can say is “Do not hit spouses, parents, children.”