Ray Rice, the NFL, and CBS has gotten me so angry, that I have not been able to write. I have been trying to write this post for weeks. In actual fact, I haven’t been able to write a word of any kind, because I have been so angry. So this post is to serve the purpose of me releasing my anger (and if you have pent up anger on this as well, please comment), and then move on to other topics that are happening in the world of celebrities and mental health.
In order to process what has been happening – a friend of mine gave me a little cheat sheet to help me unscramble my thoughts. And rather than write a long essay on domestic abuse, I will stick to the questions he posed.
Why would someone defend and minimize abuse?
Minimize abuse – do they think it doesn’t happen? Someone once tried to tell me that the holocaust didn’t happen. I know that the holocaust happened, its not some kind of myth. Neither is abuse. Abuse is real. I understand why victims would minimize it or even defend it. But that’s another topic. Bystanders should never say, “well they deserved it – look what she was wearing”, or “he caught her talking to another man”. or anything else to defend the abuser. There is no excuse for it. None. I don’t care what the reason is.
Why would a woman abused defend her abuser?
The mindset of a victim is hard to understand, especially if you have never been in that particular situation. Their mind is a messed up place. Usually at some point the abuser has convinced the victim that the abuse is deserved. Once a spirit is broken, it isn’t too hard to take advantage of them. And its very hard to heal such a spirit. I don’t know of any instances where healing has taken place in the presence of an abuser. I suppose its possible, but I think its unlikely. It’s easy to say that we would leave – but we don’t know. We have no idea what kind of stress that person is under, and we don’t understand the entire story. What we can do is listen. We can offer them help. But we can not force them to leave. BUT WE CAN OFFER HELP.
What is the best treatment for a public abuser? Privacy or to be made an example of?
I don’t know the answer to this. It is something I do think a lot about though. Does a public stoning or flogging make things better. No it doesn’t. We know this behaviour happens in other parts of the world, and it leads to other problems. The last thing we need is for a revolution of abusive partners to rise up and create more havoc. No I don’t believe this is the answer. And I am not sure that public shaming works either. Sports heroes going on the public speaking circuit to talk about domestic abuse to high schoolers, scares me. These men are worshipped by children. I am not sure I would want a known abuser to be speaking to my kids about beating up their girlfriends, and while they know it was a mistake to do so – in the moment they couldn’t stop.
I personally believe that the best treatment is one made up of therapy, and a place of safety for both parties. Help for the abuser to get their issues under control and get some serious help to deal with whatever it is that is making them do this. And help for the victim. Help that will deal with the physical injuries, the emotional scarring, and financial help to live a life free of abuse. I don’t think the public needs to witness every stage of healing. We know too much as it is.
What is the public and individual responsibility in the face of such abuse?
Lots of options here. You can do things like not tune into Monday Night Football, or the Superbowl, or boycott their advertisers, and stay away from the merchandise. And believe me I have thought about it. If I was a football fan, I would think about the best way I could get these people to pay for what they have done. But I am not a fan. So they will never get my hard earned money. I don’t even know what companies sponsor the football games, so boycotting them probably wouldn’t hit them hard, chances are I don’t even use those products (though I probably should check into them, just to make sure). I think the best thing we can do is educate ourselves. Education is our greatest weapon in the war against domestic violence. And once we are armed and ready for this battle we should take it to the streets – volunteer in our women’s shelters, become active in our churches, and bring our knowledge to areas where this kind of education hasn’t yet reached.
We need to get angry (focused driven anger, not wild unruly physical violence), get mad. We need to stand up for ourselves. We need to realize that we are worthy of respect. We need to learn that it is our right to be safe. And we need to share this attitude. Everyone deserves this. Not just women, not just men. All women, men, and children deserve to be safe. Safe. All of us.
Should you support the labours and the fruits of the labours of people who engage in reprehensible behaviours in their personal lives.
I am all about letting people in the public have personal lives. I think that is important. But it comes with a very big exception. As an adult you are a role model. It’s how it is. People look up to you. Children look up to adults for direction. Even more so when you are in the public eye. So feel free to do what you want to do – but make sure its within the boundaries of being a role model. If you are on tv, and you hit your wife – that says a whole lot to a bunch of your fans. When you hit your wife, and there are no consequences for you to face – that is giving permission to a whole generation of young men, to do exactly the same thing to their girlfriends.
So yes, go ahead and support your idols. But research them carefully. And have a discussion about the good and the bad that they do with your children and friends, and anyone else who will listen. If you are uncomfortable about what your idols are doing -this warrants another discussion, and then explore what happens when you turn off the game. You might find some else to listen to. Someone more important. Someone right in front of you.
Should you try to get them fired, so you can enjoy the sport with a “clear conscience” and remove the stain from your beloved team?
Its up to you. Everyone makes mistakes. Some of us screw up bigger than others. We all need second chances. I would watch to see how this situation unfolds. What steps are taken to help the victims, and the abusers. And what steps the organization takes to protect the people who were hurt. And not only that, but watch what steps the NFL takes to make amends to the people they lied to. The fans, and their advertisers. The NFL is about making money – and I hope that they take some (a big chunk) of that money and donate it to women’s shelters and other charities that help survivors of domestic abuse.
The NFL is broken. They have a responsibility to their communities to not only provide entertainment, but to be role models. And its time that the NFL and their employees start behaving like role models.
Now re-read those questions, and your answers – and ask yourself, “are you sure?”
I have very strong feelings about domestic abuse. Most of the time these situations are black and white to me. But this situation has me all mixed up. Its very very grey. I’m not 100% sure of anything that I have written here. And this post has taken me 3 weeks to write. Which should tell you how much I have struggled with this topic. I detest what has happened, but I don’t have a solution. And all I can offer is, that we need to continue this conversation. Domestic violence needs to come to an end, and we need to do our part. But other than talking about it, and moving the conversation along – I am at a loss. It’s a first step. But I am unable to see beyond it.
I would like to know your thoughts about what has happened, and how you feel about the way its being handled (or not handled).