NFL and Domestic Violence

The NFL has a Domestic Violence Problem. No it does not!

Reading and hearing that the NFL has a domestic violence and sexual violence problem, that the military has a domestic violence and sexual violence  problem, that college campuses have  a domestic violence  and sexual violence problem are just glaring and high profile examples of how we fail to call a reality what it is.

In all of these cases men are being violent to women. Men have a violence against women problem, not the NFL, not the military nor college campuses.  These are just institutions that provide a cultural environment which provide men with the status and hidden backdrops to perpetrate violence against women with impunity.

After multiple revelations of high-profile male athletes’ violent acts against women, we are still saying these acts of violence at least open up a dialogue and awareness of the problems of domestic and sexual violence. Again, the problem is not domestic or sexual violence.  The problem is men’s violence against women and that men have not taken ownership of this violence.   This is not a woman’s issue.  This is a man’s issue and men who are gentle and respectful of women have a vested interest in being the ones who take ownership because the violent men will not.  Men need to be held accountable for their violence against women by other men, not by women.

In this most recent incident people were willing to accept the victim’s apology for her supposed role in the violence against her but men failed to demand full accountability for the perpetrator’s actions.  Less attention needs to be paid to a victim’s response and more attention paid to our own response.

If we as a culture are serious about women’s safety we must stop judging the victim’s response; stop making excuses for men’s violence; stop glorifying athletes as role models; and stop being silent bystanders. If you want to judge someone judge yourself. 1 in 3 women will experience rape, violence or stalking by a man.  40% of mass shootings started with a man targeting his girlfriend, wife or ex-wife. The FBI reports that while 3,200 servicemen were killed in battle between 2000 and 2006, there were 9,010 women murdered by their male partners in the U. S.   These statistics alone should have men marching in the streets to end the violence.

The abuse of women by men should not be tolerated by other men whether by their silence or their lack of action.     Women should no longer be expected to take one for the team.

By Staff of St. Martha’s Hall, a shelter for abused women and their children