The NFL And Domestic Violence-Is There A Temporary Compact?

In a story that we did some time ago entitled ‘What Is The Big Deal About Domestic Violence?’ we described the definition of domestic violence or abuse and talk about
how bad it is in the United States supplying some shocking statistics about the problem. If you haven’t read that article, you really should!

In today’s story we’re discussing news headlines about domestic violence with a goodly proportion of them pertaining to the NFL.

In a Washington Post story about Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel, also known as “Johnny Football” who is facing criminal charges in a domestic violence case -the first high-profile case for the NFL in 2016. The victim claims that Manziel hit her so hard she became deaf in her left ear according to the application for protective order filed last week in Texas. Apparently the case is still under investigation by the Dallas and Fort Worth police who have yet to press charges against the struggling quarterback. Domestic violence accounts for 48% of arrests for violent crimes among football players compared to 21% among non-football players.

In another story by the Washington Post wives and girlfriends of football players are encouraged to keep quiet when there’s domestic violence involved. Wives describe an insular and intensely secretive organization where loyalty extends only in one direction and everyone protects the NFL brand. The article makes the point that the league rarely communicates with wives at all in any kind of issue. The league did not respond to requests for comment about league culture or how officials interact with player’s wives. There is intense pressure on a female victim to keep quiet, because the husband is a high profile paycheck. The negative media attention could end a player’s career and jeopardizes their livelihood.

In our opinion the NFL is taking a real positive step forward where for the first time players will be Banned From The Combine if they have a conviction for domestic violence sexual assaults or weapons offenses. The scouting combine is a prelude to the draft and is considered to be in important step in an NFL career. Players that refused to submit to a background check will also be uninvited. This is a new step by the NFL to strengthen league values to fans, future players, coaches and general managers. In my opinion it sends the strongest message of all to current and future NFL players of the seriousness of this issue. The player scouting combine is the key that unlocks an NFL future.

In a new video released that shows What Domestic Violence Looks Like specifically it was Baltimore Ravens player, Ray Rice, punching out his future wife in an Atlantic City elevator. What had taken place in the elevator had already been evident from an earlier video. But the NFL team-the Ravens-stood by Mr. Rice and the NFL gave Mr. Rice a slap on the wrist, at least initially.

And this story from the Huffington post talks about the NFL’s first woman’s two day summit held just before Super Bowl 50 where a variety of issues was discussed with prominent female athletes. In over eight hours of panels, speeches and presentations not one speaker mentioned the league’s handling of players charged with committing domestic violence. They did however talk about the concussion problem and the cheerleaders fight for fair wages. It seems as though domestic violence has been forgotten already-at least for now.

The domestic violence group called “No More” ran ads in 2015 and 2016 for the Super Bowl. The real question everyone wants to know is Did The Efforts Work? Were the ads effective? The answer to that question is shrouded in privacy and confidentiality rules that prevent the NFL from revealing whether team player wives and girlfriends are reporting abuse. Domestic abuse reporting has always been difficult, all you have to do is look at domestic violence in the private sector where it has been estimated that fewer than one in ten domestic violence incidents ever gets reported. One tool that the NFL is using is the National Domestic Violence Hotline. They are committing $5 million a year for five years to it so more women can be served. In Washington D.C. alone, one of the areas that the hotline is established, over the first six months of 2015 they answered more than 50,000 more calls than they were able to answer in the entire prior year. That is an excellent indication of the effectiveness of the program.

Since women are the targets of violence in nine out of 10 cases, including domestic violence, we recommend that women carry a self-defense product with them at all times. A nonlethal self-defense product such as a pepper spray can immobilize an assailant-even a spouse or boyfriend-for as long as 45 minutes allowing you time to get away and seek help.

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Have you ever been victim of domestic violence? We know many of our readers have been so please share your experience with us so that others may gain from your insight.