Yesterday, I was interviewed by a local news agency regarding domestic violence and hero worship. You can see the interview below.
By now, you've probably seen the video of Ray Rice knocking his then fiance out. It's a violent and disturbing video.
First, let's look at some numbers that honestly cause my stomach to tighten in knots.
• 1 in 4 women will experience domestic violence during her lifetime.
• Women experience more than 4 million physical assaults and rapes because of their partners, and men are victims of nearly 3 million physical assaults.
• Women are more likely to be killed by an intimate partner than men
• Women ages 20 to 24 are at greatest risk of becoming victims of domestic violence.
• Every year, 1 in 3 women who is a victim of homicide is murdered by her current or former partner.
• Every year, more than 3 million children witness domestic violence in their homes.
• Children who live in homes where there is domestic violence also suffer abuse or neglect at high rates (30% to 60%).
• A 2005 Michigan study found that children exposed to domestic violence at home are more likely to have health problems, including becoming sick more often, having frequent headaches or stomachaches, and being more tired and lethargic.
• A 2003 study found that children are more likely to intervene when they witness severe violence against a parent – which can place a child at great risk for injury or even death (All numbers from here).
Those numbers disturb me. With those numbers, it is probably safe to assume that someone you know, someone your children goes to school with, maybe multiple someones is the victim of domestic violence.
Someone is going to sleep tonight afraid of the person sleeping next to them.
I think one of our biggest problems is that for too many people, domestic violence is something that is just in the background of life. It's not actually something we engage or try to change.
I'm on record as loving Facebook. Yesterday, Facebook was disturbing to me. So many people wanted to defend what Ray Rice did and some went so far as to say that he shouldn't lose his job.
One person even said that they (the Ravens) are playing the hated Steelers this week and that "lot's of men have hit their women and still had a job."
I think another problem highlighted by this incident with Ray Rice is that we tend to excuse the worst of behaviors from our sports heroes. I am afraid we do this in too many high schools and colleges.
We want to feel like winners. Badly.
In order to feel like a winner, we want to pretend that these athletes exist purely on the field.
But they don't.
And this not so subtle message of it's OK to beat your woman if you're on my sports team tells our kids there are some poeple who have a different set of rules.
We need to explain to our kids that domestic violence is never OK. It's never Ok to hurt someone because they have made us mad.
Winning isn't the only thing.
There are many things that are way more important than winning. If your team loses because a key person isn't on it because he's been suspended for beating his wife/girlfriend/fiance, then so be it.
Winning a sports game just isn't that important.
Lastly, we need to stop villifying Janay Rice and all victims of domestic violence. I don't know what she said in that elevator. I don't know the current situation but she seems to believe it was a one time event.
She has the right to do whatever she wants to do with her life in regards to this situation, even if you or I think it's wrong. We need to treat her with respect.
We tend to go to extremes with our responses to the victims. Too often, we imply that they must have done something to deserve it (Stephen A. Smith, anyone?) or we call them gold diggers and other derogatory names because we don't understand why they are choosing to stay.
I do not believe that any person should stay with a person who is abusing them and men get abused as well, but I have to give each person the dignity afforded to every human being to make their own choices.
Domestic violence is real. It is tearing at our society and it needs to be addressed.
To watch my interview, click here.