November 18, 2012; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice (27) wears a terrible towel on his head as he returns to the locker room after the Baltimore Ravens defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field. The Pittsburgh Steelers won 13-10. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Taking a Stand Against Domestic Violence

“It isn’t very nice to admit, but domestic violence has its uses. So raw and unleashed, it tears away the veil of civilization that comes between us as much as it makes life possible. A poor substitute for the sort of passion we like to extol perhaps, but real love shares more in common with hatred and rage than it does with geniality or politeness.” ― Lionel Shriver, We Need to Talk About Kevin.

Every 9 seconds in the US a woman is assaulted or beaten. Every day in the US, more than three women are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends. Around the world, at least one in every three women has been beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused during her lifetime (Domestic Violence Statistics).

This past week, details, suspensions and backlash have come out over the domestic abuse incident involving Baltimore Ravens’ RB Ray Rice and his fiancée Janay Palmer. The facts are clear and the story has been laid out. While we know the incidents of the beating, many of us do not truly know the full story. It may be a long time till we actually know the realstory of what went on that night.

Regardless of the legalities and suspensions, the tale of Ray Rice not only exposed the current situation of domestic violence in the NFL, but in the United States.

While many angry and frustrated men may not understand, we know one thing for certain: regardless of race, religion, skin, hair or eye color, shoe or waist size, personality, sexual orientation, income or gender, no human being has the right to physically harm another human being. Period. Case closed.

Jan 30, 2014; New York, NY, USA; Chicago Bears cornerback Charles Tillman (left) and Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice during the Characters Unite event in advance of Super Bowl XLVIII at 1271 Avenue of Americas. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

Jan 30, 2014; New York, NY, USA; Chicago Bears cornerback Charles Tillman (left) and Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice during the Characters Unite event in advance of Super Bowl XLVIII at 1271 Avenue of Americas. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

I thoroughly believe that in this day and age, there are no supporters of domestic violence in the United States. In no place does a pro-violence rally take place. In no place does a woman or a man get beaten and people applaud. And in no place should domestic violence be accepted or tolerated.

We all understand this notion, yet why does it still happen?

Secretly we abhor violence and all that it stands for, yet when a case similar to Rice’s occurs, we are silent.

Bleacher Report’s Mike Freeman brought up the importance of speaking up. In his article published this past week, Freeman stated “when Ray Rice knocked out his then-fiancée and dragged her unconscious body out of an elevator, not a single Raven spoke up. Silence. One player did say something, a lone voice critical of Rice, and it was Brandon Spikes from the Bills. His retort was, well, brilliant, but it was mostly alone. Also, around the time of Rice’s issues, the Donald Sterling controversy was bubbling. NFL players had plenty to say about Sterling. Players will talk about everything else. Their contracts. Other players’ contracts. Concussions. The violence of the sport. Contracts. More contracts. Money.”
But where Freeman got most of us was in his solution to the problem, a solution curt and blunt, but powerful; “speak the hell up.”

What this entire discussion, ruckus, hoopla, commotion or whatever you would like to call it has caused us to do is talk.

Seeing a grown man physically abuse a woman is a tragedy, but to stand idly by and not talk about preventing future beatings is even more of a tragedy. What is amazing and saddening about this tragedy is that because of acts of Panthers’ DE Greg Hardy and Ravens’ RB Ray Rice, thousands and thousands of potential abuse can be stopped. What Ray Rice and Greg Hardy did was inexcusable, but at the same time, it put right in front of our faces a topic that many of us are often too scared to talk about.

Feb 8 2013; Miami, FL, USA; ESPN reporter and television personalities Stephen A. Smith looks on before a game between the Los Angeles Clippers and the Miami Heat at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith tried to talk about the issue, but unfortunately his comments conveyed all the wrong messages.

“Let’s make sure we don’t do anything to provoke wrong actions,” Smith said. “If we come after somebody has put their hands on you, it doesn’t negate the fact that they already put their hands on you. So let’s try to make sure that we can do our part in making sure that that doesn’t happen.”

ESPN SportsNation host Michelle Beadle initially spoke out loudly against Smith’s comments via twitter.

“So I was just forced to watch this morning’s First Take. A) I’ll never feel clean again B) I’m now aware that I can provoke my own beating,” Beadle wrote.”I’m thinking about wearing a miniskirt this weekend…I’d hate to think what I’d be asking for by doing so @stephenasmith. #dontprovoke” (via New York Daily News).

But then amidst her comments against Smith, Beadle did something not many television personalities do: she opened up.

“I was in an abusive relationship once. I’m aware that men & women can both be the abuser. To spread the message that we not ‘provoke’ is wrong” Beadle said. “Violence isn’t the victim’s issue. It’s the abuser’s. To insinuate otherwise is irresponsible and disgusting. Walk. Away.”

Today I am not here to defend Stephen A. Smith, nor am I here to defend Michelle Beadle, but to show the progress we are making.

We are finally talking.

An ESPN SportsNation personality opened up publically about her personal experiences with physical abuse. In what other possible cases could such openness be possible? It is not every day in which a famous sports anchor tells the entire world that they’ve been in an abusive relationship.

I believe that this domestic violence situation has opened up a scar in not just Uncle Sam, but the entire world. Now is the time when we can finally talk about the issue of domestic violence, heal the wounds we have sustained and prevent tragedies like this from ever happening again.

Jan 12, 2014; Charlotte, NC, USA; Carolina Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy (76) on the field prior to the 2013 NFC divisional playoff football game at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

If we don’t then those abused will keep getting abused and those abusers will keep abusing. Before this story fades away into the history of July 2014, we have to talk about it and make sure we are at a point in society in which we are fully ready to move on.

It is tragic instances like these that help us to grow as humans. Trayvon Martin helped us talkabout gun violence. Magic Johnson helped us talk about HIV/AIDS. Now it is Ray Rice that is helping us talk about domestic violence. It is instances like these that have the ability to make us look up from our daily paper and question the lives we live. I think that the time of questioning has already begun because we are talking about it. Just by reading this article you are doing something. You are becoming aware of what is going on. You are no longer ignorant to the abuse that is happening all over the world.

Next time you hear of an incident of abuse or are abused yourself, you will hopefully stop, step back and remember that no human being has the right to harm you or another human being. By sharing on twitter, face-booking, or even talking about this issue with your family, friends and loved ones, our society is getting a bit smarter and a bit stronger with each conversation. By reading, listening and speaking, we are helping take down this issue, one word and one emotion at a time.

Tags: Baltimore Ravens Carolina Panthers Domestic Violence Greg Hardy NFL NFL News Opinion Ray Rice

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