By Kevin Lair
Senior Elm Writer
It seems that every time I turn on the TV or flip open a newspaper, I see yet another case involving domestic violence. Worst yet, most offenders are simply given a slap on the wrist because they are rich or have high connections. When did it become socially acceptable to abuse loved ones and get away with it because of your fame?
Most recently, fans have witnessed the punishments of athletes such as Ray Rice of the Baltimore Ravens and Adrian Peterson of the Minnesota Vikings due to alleged acts of domestic violence. This past week, singer Rihanna took to Twitter with some unpleasant words for the NFL. After it pulled one of her songs from a contracted Thursday Night Football line-up. Following Rihanna’s outburst on Twitter, the NFL responded with a suspension of her music from the program.
CBS Sports President Sean McManus said the original pulling of Rihanna’s song was only partially due to the singer’s own history as a domestic-abuse victim of Chris Brown. One can only speculate as to why the NFL dropped her song the first time, but it would be wrong to pull it simply because Rihanna was a victim of domestic abuse and the football game featured the Baltimore Ravens. The NFL should not punish Rihanna because she is a victim nor should she be defined as “that singer who was domestically abused,” although now the title “that singer who was fired by the NFL because of her Twitter attack” may be somewhat fitting.
Whether it is highlighted by the NFL or Twitter fights, domestic abuse remains a brutal and repulsive epidemic in this country. According to the US Department of Justice, “Domestic violence can be physical, sexual, emotional, economic, or psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person.”
The statistics on domestic violence are startling and heartbreaking. More often than not, men and women are victims of domestic violence committed by their current or past intimate partner. One in four women will experience domestic violence during her lifetime. More than three million children witness such violence in their homes each year, often affecting their own behavior and development. Thus, the US Department of Housing and Urban Development finds that domestic violence is the third leading cause of homelessness among families. Domestic violence is clearly an epidemic affecting every gender, race, ethnicity, and social class.
It would be nice if this article needed only to say “domestic abuse is wrong, is never justified, and will never happen again,” but that is simply wishful thinking. An NFL crackdown on a few players or the continued ignorance of people who have not (yet) been a victim of domestic violence will never put an end to this raging epidemic. That is why it is up to motivated and driven citizens to educate peers on the horrors of domestic abuse, the warning signs, and the innumerable resources that are available for victims and their perpetrators, including the Justice Department’s Office on Violence Against Women.
Arguably the most important method to end domestic violence is to reshape perceptions and minds. It must be drilled into everyone’s head that a man should never abuse a woman and a woman should never abuse a man physically, sexually, emotionally, or any other way, period. Substance abuse, anger, and stress are not excuses to abuse your partner or child. No one has the right to treat another person with disrespect or abuse, and if you truly love someone, you will never abuse them.
Perhaps the worst part of this epidemic is the fact that most domestic violence incidents are never reported. Survivors often feel that they are to blame or that there is no way to escape the situation, especially if there are children involved. This should never be the case. No one deserves to be a victim of domestic violence, and a perpetrator’s actions should never be justified. And most importantly, never assume that domestic abuse will be an isolated incident, whether you are a victim or a friend.
If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic abuse, please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).