“No More” Domestic Violence

             Ray Rice, a former football player for the Baltimore Ravens, has appealed the NFL’s decision to indefinitely suspend him from the league after evidence surfaced that clearly shows Rice in the midst of an act of domestic violence. In a surveillance video, Rice is shown knocking his then fiancée and now wife unconscious in an elevator before hauling her lifeless body out of the elevator and dumping her face-first on the floor.

             Rice is claiming it is “unfair” that he was punished twice by the NFL for his behavior. The first punishment was a two-day suspension that occurred prior to media sources showing addition footage of the elevator video. Once that extra footage, which shows Rice clearly punching his fiancée/wife in the face, became public, the NFL gave Rice a second punishment of an indefinite suspension from the league. His appeal is scheduled to begin on Nov. 5.

             From my own and others’ past experiences, I know that domestic violence on the Ray Rice scale does not happen out of nowhere. Domestic violence usually begins slowly, with small attempts to control the victim financially, emotionally, and physically, and then starts to gain speed as the victim loses more of his or her self-esteem throughout the abusive relationship. A Ray Rice incident is on the far end of the domestic violence spectrum and is a good indicator that his relationship with his fiancée/wife most likely is or has been one riddled with domestic violence.

             The NFL hired a three-woman panel to advise the league on how to create a policy for handling domestic violence. One of those women released a statement that she feels handing down such harsh punishments as indefinite suspensions of players involved in domestic violence will prevent victims from coming forward. I would like to point out that it was not Ray Rice’s victim who reported the elevator incident to the authorities but rather a television celebrity news entertainment show that exposed Rice’s true nature as an aggressor to the entire country. His fiancée/wife has defended him and his actions of violence against her, which is not surprising to me as many abusers convince everyone, including the victim, that the abuse is the victim’s fault.

             Celebrities, including sports stars, can be role models for our children as they grow up. I don’t want bullies like Rice teaching our country’s young adults that it is perfectly okay to knock a woman out cold in an elevator and drop her like a sack of potatoes on the floor afterwards. Even if the NFL re-instates his position in the league, I hope the Ravens will not welcome him back on their team. I hope the current Ravens coaches and team players, along with the rest of the NFL, will use this opportunity to take a stand against the perpetrators of domestic violence and abuse. Other NFL players have already taken a stand.

             October is domestic violence awareness month, and purple has become the banner color of this cause. William Gay, a cornerback for the Pittsburgh Steelers, has worn bright purple cleats on the football field to help raise awareness for domestic violence. Gay’s mother was shot and killed more than 20 years ago by her husband, who was Gay’s stepfather, as she was attempting to leave him.

             Each time Gay wears his non-regulation cleats in a game, he faces a fine that could be as high as $5,512, according to an NFL spokesperson. Fellow Steelers cornerback Ike Taylor has pledged to pay any fine imposed on Gay because he believes Gay’s message is one worth highlighting. Gay’s mission is to educate men who perpetrate violence and offer them help to end their violent ways.

             In its own effort to bring awareness to domestic violence, the NFL has been showing a public service announcement during games. The PSA features several key NFL players saying “No More” to the excuses used to cover up domestic violence and to the reasons used to defend those who perpetuate violence. Watch the PSA by visiting http://nomore.org/nflplayerspsa/.

             As the month of October comes to an end, let’s not forget the countless victims of domestic violence or the negative impact these atrocious acts has on our country. Let’s work together to help end this unnecessary violence and to bring something positive to the lives of those who have survived domestic violence. I suggest using internet search tools to connect with agencies nationwide that need volunteers so we can help turn a negative situation into a positive for those affected by domestic violence.

             Let’s all say “No More.”