Stephanie’s Adventures in Singledom: The NFL, Stephen A. Smith and ESPN: Just the twisted faces of the sports industry

BY STEPHANIE DOLCE

“….a woman’s responsibility not to “provoke” domestic violence.” Those were Stephen A. Smith’s actual words on ESPN last Friday in reference to Ray Rice’s two game suspension from the NFL for knocking out his wife, Janay, in an Atlantic City resort elevator.  (Meanwhile, for those who don’t follow the NFL, Robert Mathis, another football player, was suspended for four games for taking Clomid, to help him & his wife have a third child.)

Yes, the NFL has it twisted. As does Stephen A. Smith and ESPN.

First to Stephen A. Smith and the company he works for, ESPN.

To say that a woman is “responsible” for a man’s actions is not only absurd, it is sexist.  Let me enlighten Mr. Smith for a moment by telling him and ALL men that, a women doesn’t “ask” to get beaten and in the same breath, she doesn’t “ask” or “invite” any man to rape her either.  The only actions a woman is responsible for are her own.  Period.

Now the cold hard facts on domestic violence: (As ESPN loves to show)

The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence reports that one in four women will be victims of domestic violence at some point in their lives, 1.3 million women are assaulted by their partner every year, 85% of domestic violence reported is against women.  It is estimated that 960,000 incidents of violence against a current or former spouse, boyfriend, or girlfriend to 3 million women are physically abused by their husband or boyfriend per year. Women ages 20-24 are at the greatest risk of nonfatal intimate partner violence.  

Every nine seconds in the US a woman is assaulted or beaten. Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women—more than car accidents, muggings, and rapes combined. Domestic violence victims lose nearly 8 million days of paid work per year in the US alone—the equivalent of 32,000 full-time jobs.

The next question usually is, “If a woman is in an abusive relationship, why doesn’t she just leave?” Abusers are very good at controlling and manipulating their victims. Many times, people in abusive relationships isolate themselves from family and friends. They give excuses as to why they “deserve” to be abused. But in reality, NO ONE, deserves to be abused in ANY way.

10 Warning Signs that someone is experiencing domestic violence:

1)Tries to control you by being very bossy or demanding.
2) Is violent and / or loses his or her temper quickly.
3)Tries to isolate you by demanding you cut off social contacts and friendships.
4)Pressures you sexually, demands sexual activities you are not comfortable with.
5)Makes “jokes” that shame, humiliate, demean or embarrass you, whether privately or around family and friends all the time.
6)You frequently worry about how he or she will react to things you say or do
7)Abuses drugs or alcohol.
8)Is jealous or possessive toward you.
9)Your family and friends have warned you about the person or told you that they are concerned for your safety or emotional well being.
10)Your partner “rages” when they feel hurt, shame, fear or loss of control.

The only way to end domestic violence is to educate MEN AND WOMEN on the subject, Mr. Smith, not put the blame on the woman in the relationship.  By the way, did you even know that MEN make up 40% of domestic abuse victims? Probably not.

Now to the NFL and their twisted punishments.

First let me say, I understand that performance-enhancing drugs are looked upon as cheating. No athlete should be allowed to take them while getting paid millions of dollars. This debate has gone on for years now in football and baseball, especially.  BUT here’s the exception: when a player is taking a drug to help expand his family he should not have to be suspended. He’s not taking it to perform better on the field, he is taking it to be able to have a child. That is a BIG difference. And not only was Robert Mathis suspended three games for this, but Ray Rice did something that no man should ever do; and that was hit a woman! He not only hit her, he knocked her out- and oh, Roger Goodell, the NFL Commissioner only gives him 2 games, because his wife pleaded with him?  First off, that is a classic case of a woman who needs help just as Ray Rice needs help.

Domestic Abuse starts off small. #1 FACT: Most domestic violence incidents are never reported. Domestic violence isn’t just an argument every once in a while. Domestic violence is an ongoing pattern of abusive behavior when one person chooses to control the relationship through force or intimidation.  Fear and embarrassment are the reasons that many women do not wish to report the abuse or do anything to stop it.  This is the reason most abused women stay in those relationships and blame themselves for the abuse.  

Ray Rice needs to seek help and two games does him NONE of that. It’s like saying that what he did to his wife was OKAY just because he wasn’t CHARGED with a crime!  His wife needs to realize that he needs help and that she also needs to learn that abusing someone is a choice, not because they can’t stop themselves or that she “deserved” it. Average number of times an abuser hits his spouse before she makes a police report is 35. The only reason everyone knows about this case is because it was on an elevator camera. If it wasn’t for that, no one would have known.

The chance that a girl of high school age in the U.S. experiences violence in a dating relationship is 1 in 3.  Since football is a growing and popular sport watched by millions of people, this was the best opportunity to change that by doing something about it instead of throwing a blind eye to it and sweeping it under the rug like it didn’t happen.

So to Mr. Stephen A. Smith, ESPN & The NFL, we can all help eliminate domestic violence. Can we stop it? Probably not 100% but we can put our best foot forward in educating others after you educate yourselves first. Together, we can eliminate domestic violence from homes across the country and ensure that our children grow up in healthy, peaceful communities. Because every child, woman and man deserves that, no questions asked.