Newsflash: Violence happens often

Published 11:36 pm Tuesday, September 9, 2014

It is interesting, maybe ironic, that Ray Rice’s suspension from the NFL for domestic violence hit (no pun intended here) the news less than a month before the start of Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

It is also interesting that it took seeing Rice punching his fiancée, Janay Palmer, (now his wife) until she was unconscious to get the Baltimore Ravens office to take this action. Apparently, a video of him dragging her unconscious body out of an elevator didn’t do the trick. In fact, until this latest clip surfaced, the Ravens supported Rice and gave him what amounted to a slap on the hand.

To provide some background, initially both Rice and his fiancée faced assault charges — they dropped charges against her. In March, a grand jury indicted Rice on third-degree assault charges, which carry a potential sentence of three to five years in prison.

Then in May, he entered a program for first-time offenders that would, if he met certain conditions including participation in counseling, clear his record of the charge.

It seems when this started and they suspended Rice for only two games, there was a public outcry that led to the NFL announcing an “enhanced” personal conduct policy. The policy includes standardized penalties for domestic violence and sexual assault by any league personnel. I guess they finally decided there should be enhanced repercussions to violent behavior. So that’s good news.

Everyone reporting this story seemed shocked and the sports’ reporters looked both shocked and surprised. Well, here is a news flash — this kind goes on all the time, and not just in the NFL.

In fact, one in four women experiences domestic violence during their lives. Statistics show young people between the ages of 16-24 are victims at the highest rates.

Domestic violence tends to be a cycle that repeats from generation to generation. That means often both victimizer and victim grew up, or at least at some point in their early years, were domestic violence victims.

While we shake our heads at the actions of famous football players, we seem to forget this happens right here in Covington County. Let’s have some head shaking and local public outrage about that fact.

The NFL said it needed to do a better job punishing players involved in domestic violence. The country as a whole needs to do a better job and not only at the punishing end of the problem.

We need to educate our children because violence often starts early. Again, statistics show that nearly 1.5 million high school students experience physical abuse from a dating partner in a single year and more than half of female rape victims are under the age of 18.

People, we need to get the message that violence is not acceptable. It’s not acceptable when we watch it on television and in movies. It is not acceptable when it is part of a game we play on our phones. It is not acceptable when we feed into our heads in the music we choose to hear.

Violence is not entertaining, and our children should hear that from the adults in their lives.

We also need compassion for everyone in domestic violence situations, first, and most importantly, for those who suffer at the hands of someone who is supposed to love them. They need protection, understanding and support to get out of dangerous situations.

Secondly, compassion for the persons who hurt people they are supposed to love because, perhaps, they need it more than we can understand. That doesn’t mean they aren’t accountable for their actions. It means we offer help so they make different choices, break the cycle.

There is an outcry when a famous football player abuses his partner. Perhaps the irony is not the Ray Rice story being in the news so close to Domestic Violence Awareness Month, but that there is not a public outcry for every victim – famous or not.