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This evening I have am to be part of a radio program Wehman & Wolfe: All About America where we will highlight the issue of Domestic Violence specifically in the sports arena. When I was interviewed by Guy Wehman on Suncoast LIVE last week we spoke briefly about the issue with NFL’s Ravens running back Ray Rice dragging his then girlfriend (now wife) out of an elevator in Atlantic City presumably knocked out by Ray.  Refresh on story here.

At the time it was dismissed as a ‘very minor altercation’ and Ray Rice was merely ‘slapped on the hand’ with a two game suspension. See story here. 

Legally Rice  pleaded not guilty to a third-degree charge of aggravated assault and avoided trial by being accepted into a pretrial intervention program in May. Since the alleged assault Ray and his then fiancé, Janay Palmer have gotten married. So many might question “Why does she stay?”

I would not be able to answer this question because I am not Janay Palmer and only she can have her own voice. However, I can speak for the women that I’ve worked with who’ve been in similar situations (just much less public) and have given me the following ‘reasons’ for staying:

Afraid for you1) Children (Most believe it is better to stay in the marriage instead of ‘break it apart’ …however, they do not realize the damage that is being done and generational stronghold created when ‘violence’ and ‘emotional and verbal abuse’ are the norm.)

2) My bed, I have to lie in it. (Yes, most women feel they created this problem and they need to stick with it, figure it out, work it out, and not bother any one else with their issues. PRIDE plays a big part in this…they don’t want to admit there is a ‘bigger issue’)

3) Fear (Depending on how psychologically abusive the abuser is the greater the fear one has to actually leave the home and feel safe.)

4) Love (Yes, love brought them together, many created life together, often the abuse doesn’t happen for a long time once the relationship is established. It is hard to believe someone they love will hurt them or harm them in any way. They love them. They want to help them. They trust the men want to help themselves and they want them to get better so they stay.) Distorted love without respect is a powerful vice.

5) Money (Believe it or not many might stay (especially the ones with a more high powered /well known spouse) will not leave because of the financial situation. They worry about how they will make it. They don’t have family to rely on, a job, a career, etc. Especially if they have kids the worry and fear of how to provide paralyzes them. And I’ve even heard of some not wanting to take their kids out of the lifestyle to which they are accustomed.)

Whatever the reason it is hard to judge. We are not in that situation. We can not determine the vice that holds them. What we can do is pray for them.

There are a few that finally leave and with a plan and support system they free themselves from the abuser. There are some that choose to stay, per one of the reasons above. And then there are the tragedies. The ones that get caught in the fury and don’t make it out alive.

It is a reality, an ugly reality and one that needs to be addressed.

Outrage by the public on the minimal suspension and fine for Rice provoked the NFL to create a new ‘policy’: “NFL employees who violate the league’s domestic violence policy will be suspended without pay for six games. A second offense will result in a lifetime ban. Such an expulsion could be appealed after one year. The letter stated that the changes were effective immediately and applied to all NFL personnel.”  Article supplied by Guardian.com

Since this new policy has taken place another NFL player, 49ers defensive end Ray McDonald, has been arrested for aggravated assault against his pregnant fiancé. The arrest against Ray McDonald came just three days after the release of the NFL’s new policy against domestic violence. See the story here.

It is a problem. One that needs to be addressed. What can YOU do? TALK ABOUT IT. Make it known that it is NOT okay to support a player, regardless of their position in the NFL, or any national sports team or federation, who conducts themselves in a criminal manner.

And what to do about the women who stick by their man regardless of the ‘beating’ they receive either physically or emotionally at home? Be a friend. If you know one of them, if you are a friend to them, let them know you are there to listen, and to be their ‘support system’. Give them the encouragement and empowerment they need to get them both help.

Finally, let’s educate and encourage our daughters young on self-respect, self-dignity and self-worth. They are brought into the relationship by love…but if it’s not love that continues then they need to know they are worth more.

If you or someone you love is in a domestic violent situation please get help. Below is a ‘safety plan’ and a number for a Domestic Hotline. Please, love shouldn’t hurt.