April V. Taylor
With the NFL now embroiled in a scandal surrounding Ray Rice knocking his wife unconscious, the issue of domestic violence has now taken center stage in conversations across the country. While some may think that domestic violence is an isolated incident, a study conducted by the University of Michigan shows that one in five men admits to pushing, grabbing, shoving, slapping, hitting, kicking, biting, beating up, choking, burning, or threatening their current spouse or partner with a weapon. What is even more disturbing is that the numbers may actually be higher because the interviews for the study were done face to face, which could have impacted whether or not the men polled admitted to violence.
It is important to note that these numbers only include physical abuse and violence, not sexual or emotional abuse. According to The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 1 in 3 women report being physically abused by an intimate partner at some point in their life. This indicates that the number of men who are physically violent toward their spouse or partner is most likely higher than 1 in 5. While numbers sometimes fail to drive home the reality of a situation, based on these current statistics, if an individual gathers their father, grandfather, uncle, brother, and son in a room, the odds are pretty high that one of them has been violent towards a spouse or partner. For comparison, 1 in 14 men report being physically abused by a spouse or partner.
Since the release of videotape that shows Ray Rice knocking his wife unconscious, other people have come forward to speak out against how the NFL has handled cases of domestic violence. One of those people is Dewan Smith-Williams who is married to Wally Williams. Smith-Williams reported to The New York Daily News that she reached out to an NFL liason during in incident with her husband that involved him smashing walls and doors with a baseball bat. The liason advised her not to call police and to let Williams leave. The liason reportedly offered to call Smith-Williams back to make sure she was okay once Williams had left the residence, but the call was never made. Smith-Williams states that NFL teams, league officials and police “turn their heads to everything until something horrible is exposed.”
The NFL’s handling of incidents involving domestic violence seem to represent a larger societal issue of how perpetrators, male or female are punished for domestic violence. According to NBC News, there are currently 12 players in the NFL still playing who have been arrested for domestic violence at some point. Domestic violence is clearly an epidemic that needs to be dealt with in a manner that holds perpetrators accountable and no longer makes domestic violence a dirty little secret.