Bigger than the game

I have been thinking a while now about the NFL’s decision to suspend Ray Rice for two games after assaulting his wife. I was shocked and saddened to hear only two.
Shocked because by now we have all seen the tape and it’s horrifying to see Ray Rice drag his then girlfriend’s limp less body out of the elevator not knowing if she’s alive or dead. Then saddened as a sports fan that is also female because I wanted the NFL to make a statement to EVERYONE.
I keep hearing from men and women that the NFL could have sent a strong statement to women that they care about their “female” fans. I believe the statement should have been sent to both men and women.
First, let me just say this is not about male bashing or even remotely insinuating that all men hit women. That is absurd so before someone tries to even go there I wanted to get that out of the way. It’s so easy for those not smart enough to have an honest and open conversation about this topic to say this is about one gender picking on another. It’s bigger than that – much bigger.
This is about everyone taking responsibility because domestic violence is an incredibly serious issue.
The National Domestic Violence hotline reports that 1 in 4 women (24.3%) and 1 in 7 men (13.8%) aged 18 and older in the United States have been the victim of severe physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime.
What is also startling is that most female victims of intimate partner violence were previously victimized by the same offender, including 77% of females ages 18 to 24, 76% of females ages 25 to 34, and 81% of females ages 35 to 49.
I have friends who have found themselves in abusive relationships. It would start out as verbal abuse, then a slap here and there. The slaps escalate to a push and then the fists get involved. It comes down to where most women then want to escape but are afraid for their lives and for those who have kids their lives as well.
Over the past few days I have heard comments like –
“I want to see what happened in the elevator”
“If she hit him first then it’s not his fault”
“Women have to be mindful not to provoke their men”
So now we’re blaming the victim. She shouldn’t have hit him first, she shouldn’t have put her finger in his face, her dress was too short, she asked for it etc. etc. etc.
How about Ray Rice is a professional football player who is used to hitting and getting hit by other big men; it doesn’t matter what she did his man strength will win every time.
Before watching the elevator video I was a huge Ray Rice fan. He was one of my favorite players who seemed like one of the good guys. But that video is so disturbing that right now for me it’s hard to see him the same way.
I wasn’t looking for Roger Goodell and the NFL to end domestic violence. But, recognize the power of the NFL and their audience and see that this is bigger than football and something has to happen. I would have suspended Rice for at least half the season no less than six games. Multiple drug infractions should not trump a man putting his hands on a woman. Someone has to see that marijuana and knocking a woman unconscious are two totally different things.
It seems Janay (Ray’s wife) begged Goodell to take it easy on her husband. I don’t know them or what their “situation” is so if she wants to stand by her man and defend him that’s her right. But it is Goodell’s right to tell Janay that he has a responsibility that is bigger than her husband’s reputation. He’s done it before so why not be the bad guy in this situation. Sure he would have pissed off Ray Rice, the Ravens and I’m sure a lot of fans. But he would have also prevented that next guy who was thinking about slapping or punching his girlfriend, fiancé or wife to NOT even go there.
As hard as it was hearing that Rice’s suspension was only two games this last statistic is just as hard –
The number of people per minute who experience intimate partner violence in the U.S.: 24