I admit it. I have played that card before. Back in 2009 and 2011, I put Chris Brown on my D-Bag of the year awards list. I judged him in the whole Rhianna thing because I was a spectator to a TMZ/CNN/E/Social Media deluge of opinion and edited content to garner ratings. And now, even though my posting has become lax and two months gone, I am not going to bring up the current issue except to say this.
We need to stop sitting in judgment of the celebrity. We need to stop sitting in judgment of the victims. We need to address the issue.
The issue is this. Domestic Violence is a thing. Abuse is a thing. And instead of going after the perpetrators and victims we need to tackle the issue. Taking to Twitter, Facebook, and yes… blogs, to call out someone for hitting another person or for someone staying with someone who hit them does not help the matter. All it does is create a cycle of pressure and tension for those involved leading to more stress. Now, I say that in a PC way because I am trying to be objective. In short… So and so does not need you defending or bashing them on Social Media. You aren’t taking away the act. You are creating a perpetual cycle of Ground Hog Day in that person’s life. That’s not to say the abuser doesn’t deserve the criticism or constant reminder of their crime, but the victim doesn’t either.
Here is a short list of points. And of course, I make a generalized disclaimer because I am not an expert or in law enforcement.
- STOP calling attention to the people involved.
Whether it is Ray Rice or Janay Palmer or Rhianna or Chris Brown, using their names to push your social media agenda is not a call to attention to end domestic abuse or a shaming tactic. It just creates more sensation and publicity and keeps the wrong people in the spot light. If you must… hashtag the crime. Or, better yet, don’t hashtag. Don’t Tweet. Don’t Retweet. I know, I posted to Facebook about how the “availability” of a certain tape becoming known led to the suspension and that had it not, the release of the player would not have happened. I was more about calling out the NFL’s “too little, too late actions”. Still, it was probably wrong to do so.
- STOP assuming.
We saw an incident. ONE. One time. We have no idea what was said in that argument. I am neither condoning nor judging the persons involved. That one single event should be enough to have charges and an investigation brought about. And both were arrested at the time. It’s also up to authorities and those with the knowledge and training to conduct it. Not bloggers, talking heads, or Monday morning experts to decide. “Well, her response clearly comes from someone who has a history of being abused.” We don’t know that. There could be extenuating circumstances that led to that incident and she could be just as capable for provoking or causing an incident as much as being in an abusive relationship. We just don’t know.
What we do know is that from the tape, an altercation happened outside of the elevator where the victim attempted to strike the accused. Then, once inside the elevator, we saw it escalate and that he knocked her out. We don’t know what was said. We don’t know what happened before they came into view of the security cam. That doesn’t mean it isn’t the case. Everything on that tape, that the 24 hour news media looped endlessly and unrelenting in search of ratings, is pretty much how it was described by him. We all knew what happened. We just don’t know why. ABC’s “What Would You Do” ran a segment where they showed a couple in an argument that was framed to look like abuse. They filmed it from two perspectives. One was a man clearly strong arming and demeaning a woman. The other was from the point of the woman being the aggressor. Most people look at men as the bigger, stronger person and it was almost humorous to see him getting chewed out by a woman. “Aww, look at the pussy.” That’s just an opinion of what some onlooker might have thought. But we don’t know what happens in a relationship because we aren’t privy to the stuff that happens off camera, out of frame, or behind closed doors. After all, people reacted to what they thought was an altercation between a couple. In reality, it was two actors playing out a scene for reaction.
The media often clips, edits, and crafts a story to scintillate. Make the accuser look worse. Make the victim look less blameless. Make the police… ALL THE POLICE IN ALL THE COUNTRY look like power abusive trigger happy assholes. Look at the recent case in Ferguson. Only the act was shown, not the before. People were quick to judge based on what they assumed happened. “Large African American man suspected of robbing a store.” When it wasn’t the store owner that called the police, it was a spectator, assuming that’s what happened. Assumptions truly do harm. Unless you have all the facts, you can only work with the conditions present and the current act as it happens. Speculating on whether or not someone standing beside their abuser is in denial or just stupid doesn’t help the issue. It perpetuates the cycle of gossip and sensationalism that gets people hurt further.
- STOP blaming.
“She’s stupid for marrying him.” “How could she stay with him?” All of that does nothing but show how ignorant you are of what it is truly like to be in an abusive relationship. Again, in reference to Chris Brown and Rhianna , I did it, too. I said it. I learned. People… and I say people because both men AND women are perpetrators of abuse as well as victims are capable of abusing another and should not. And it doesn’t always have to be physical abuse. Someone can verbally or emotionally abuse you and it’s just as wrong. They may abuse you into thinking that you leaving them is a horrible idea, because “you will never do better” or “you are not good enough to be with someone else”. “No one, but me, would have you.” “You’re just a drama queen and want attention.” This is problem. People in abusive relationships don’t always have an exit strategy. For some, religion plays a role in their trying to divorce. Church elders may say that the good Christian thing to do is to work it out. Not blaming the church or religion, but there is still a long way to go in this world before we understand the nature of people vs. the infallibility of faith. Sometimes, you just need to leave. The best thing the church, a family member, or an administrative group could do is get you the proper help instead of offering hollow advice from a place of ignorance.
Point is the victim isn’t stupid. The victim is most likely scared. There are a million things going on. “If I leave, they will find me. Instead of one punch, it’ll be five.” Worse yet, there may be a child involved. People who abuse aren’t just strong or physical. They can be smart. They can paranoid. They may go to great lengths to make sure you don’t have an exit strategy. Sometimes, because of the level of abuse, they may isolate you from the tools and knowledge that can allow you to understand how to fight back. It’s not being stupid, it’s being controlled. It’s being brainwashed. It’s being forced to live a life of submission where you don’t always understand that it is wrong to be treated like that. They can make you think you deserve it.
- STOP talking about the wrong people.
Am I disgusted with the NFL for getting caught with their pants down? Yes. Am I going to stop watching football because of it? No. Why? Because even though there is probably a statistical correlation between violence in sports, pressure to perform, abuse of mood altering performance enhancing drugs, concussions, brain injury, and violence outside of the workplace due to trauma and behavioral issues from all the above, one incident does not make the sport all bad.
Do I want Roger Goodell gone? Sure, for my own reasons. Unfortunately, he has most likely made the NFL more profitable than any other commissioner. He is very good at his job, first and foremost, as a generator of profit and revenue. Does he display poor judgment in character issues and dealing with problems? Maybe. But he isn’t going anywhere.
Do the Ravens suck? What do you think? I am from Pittsburgh :)
Again, we talk about the wrong people. We shouldn’t be talking about people or corporations at all, let alone one that generated some $6 billion+ in revenue, but they are non-profit. Go figure.
- START talking with your loved ones, children,
etc. about what’s right and wrong.
We should be talking about abuse and domestic violence and violence against women AND MEN. How woman and men can perpetuate violence against each other. How it is never right to hit anyone for any reason unless you are in danger, yourself. Defense, never offense. Also, teaching our children the value of their own life as well as others. How they aren’t to blame for abuse. How they are special and worthy and how they should be treated AND HOW THEY SHOULD TREAT OTHERS. The only way you can stop the cycle is to keep it from happening. Let it bred out in future generations. For every policy or rule that the NFL puts into place to weed out the bad element, there are how many bad elements just going someone else. Their zero tolerance just means zero problems they have to deal with. If not them, it’ll be the arena league or CFL or whatever. Saying, “Not in our house”, doesn’t stop the abuse, it just shifts it somewhere else. We need to be the ones to not tolerate it in our own lives. It’s not the job of the NFL to keep abuse from happening, it’s ours. As a parent, as a teacher, as a mentor, as a parent, and even a child, it is up to us to decide. No more.
National Domestic Violence Hotline
TTY: (800) 787-3244
TTY: (800) 787-3244
Links from The Administration for Children and Families
at The Dept of Health and Human Services
at The Dept of Health and Human Services