I love football. This might not have come across in my earlier posts or my blog bio, but I do. I love football. I listen almost exclusively to sports talk radio and so, of course, I have been hearing a lot about Ray Rice and the domestic violence issue and the reaction, or lack of reaction, from the NFL.
The first problem that I keep hearing relating to this particular situation is that people keep comparing it to players who are being fined and suspended for PED or drug use, which is an inequitable comparison. For better or worse, right or wrong, the NFL does a have a drug abuse policy with set guidelines for punishment and they do not have one for domestic violence situations.
The other common argument that I am hearing is that the league needs some type of policy for arrests, while that is probably true, I still do not believe that this will address the domestic violence issue. While I do not claim to be an expert on this particular situation or to know all the facts around it, what I have seen in the video, what I have heard and through my own experience, it does seem to be a classic case of domestic violence. And there is an inherent conflict with domestic violence and pressing charges that lead to arrest.
One of the suggestions I heard related to punishments was that they league should wait until they have an arrest, charges or a conviction. That concerns me specifically in relation to domestic violence. This puts the pressure back on the woman for pressing charges, which is exactly what the police and domestic violence advocates don’t support. The problem is that then the woman feels responsible, and that perpetuates the cycle of abuse.
One of two things would typically happen.
1) He will promise it will never happen again, she will believe him, and she will not press charges. But then it will happen again. Because that is how the cycle of abuse works.
2) She does press charges, then he faces suspension or fines based on her pressing charges, she feels guilty, he is angry, and it happens again. Because that is how the cycle of abuse works.
No good outcomes from either situation. This is why most domestic violence advocates push for laws that take the decision out of her hands. The police file charges whether she wants to or not. But so much of domestic violence is not even seen or reported.
The Ray Rice video with his then fiancée happened to be caught on camera at a casino. If that was caught on camera, in an elevator, a fairly public place, what do you think happens behind closed doors?
As a survivor of domestic violence, it is scary. The terror of living in that kind of a situation is all consuming and, for me, I just wanted it to end. It is hard to see your way out of it. I didn’t press charges. Maybe I should have, but I didn’t. I left. I protected myself and my family.
But was that enough?
Is it ever enough?
What will be “enough” of a punishment to (hopefully) make a difference to Ray Rice and make him stop treating his wife this way?
What is “enough” of a punishment for the NFL to make a stand to say they won’t tolerate domestic violence?
And when do we, as a society, say Enough is Enough.