Jackson: Domestic violence not just an NFL problem | SummitDaily.com

Jackson: Domestic violence not just an NFL problem

I have been conflicted about responding to the latest events occurring within the NFL. It has been painful watching the powers that be struggle over determining the appropriate response to domestic violence and child abuse. It has been disheartening seeing the power of endorsement dollars carrying more weight than the outcries of victims, victim advocacy groups and the general public. It has also been disheartening seeing individuals side with the perpetrators because having them on the field gives their team a better chance of winning. But what has saddened me the most is seeing this turn into a public relations dance (a bad one at that) instead of an opportunity to draw attention to the major societal problem of domestic violence and educate the country on its effects. This is not an NFL problem yet the NFL has an opportunity to start a nationwide conversation about masculinity and violence. I look forward to the direction they go from here.

Domestic violence is a societal problem and one that is bigger than many understand. According to most reports, one in three women will be a victim of domestic violence in her lifetime. We need to start believing this statistic. In the last week alone I have heard from women who have experienced grabbing, shoving, isolation, sexual assault, a skull fracture, yelling, not being given access to finances, transportation or basic needs such as medical attention or food. All of these were perpetrated by the person in their life whom they were or currently are in an intimate relationship with. Please note that not all of these behaviors are physical in nature. Physical abuse is only one of the tactics that abusers use to maintain power and control over a victim. One of the inspiring movements that immediately came to life as a result of the Ray Rice video and in response to the age old question of, “Why doesn’t she just leave?” was the twitter campaign #WhyIStayed, #WhyILeft. If I could educate on one thing related to domestic violence it would be on the answers survivors have given to the question of leaving. I cannot in this short article address all of the key reasons but I can address what I feel is the most important and relevant reason. The answer given is fear, and it is given with good reason. Let’s imagine Ray Rice has said to his now wife, repeatedly, “If you leave me, I will kill you.” If I was the person in the elevator, in a public place, that was knocked out cold by the person who said they would kill me if I left them, I am pretty sure I would believe him capable of following through with that threat and would really consider if leaving would bring me any safety. Statistically, we know it is the most dangerous time for a victim when they attempt to leave an abusive relationship. Please understand that leaving does not equal safety, by a long shot. Domestic violence is a complicated social problem. We minimize its power and its impact when we put the responsibility onto the victim to keep herself and/or her children safe by simply leaving. We also don’t make it very easy for women to leave when we question their sensibility for staying.

Amy Jackson is the director of Advocates for Victims of Assault, Inc. She lives in Summit County. For more information about domestic violence, services or for volunteer opportunities please contact the Advocates for Victims of Assault at 970-668-3906 or summitadvocates.org.

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