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As a therapist, I work with abusers and victims, though not at the same time. Nor does anyone fall into an easy category. No one is blameless. Often violence like an addiction breeds on itself. We’ve been hearing about the NFL and Ray Rice’s bludgeoning assault on his wife, Janay (nee Palmer). Not only is it shocking the Rice punched and kicked his wife unconscious, but Rice showed a complete lack of care or remorse for her as she’s lying bleeding by the elevator. He also beat her up several years ago. They got married the next day. He did it once without serious consequences, are you surprised that the marital violence continued?
Domestic violence is not just one or 2 physical attacks. It’s a pattern of abuse. Abuse injects fear into the relationship. Love shouldn’t hurt. Nor is violent a permanent albatross. Many abusers have changed from controlling their partners to respecting their partner. Usually therapy or anger management programs are not enough. Ray Rice took a series of “Life Skills” training in 2008 which was mandatory for NFL rookies. He attended every class of the 4-day training, but that did not suffice.
In therapy or treatment programs, men who are violent must take responsibility for what they did. I can understand social rules as well as Ray Rice and OJ Simpson. But applying respect to a lover is different. I can blame her, ask forgiveness, insult her, and deny that it hurts. Often I rationalize that the person deserves the punishment (read: abuse).
I thoroughly appreciate the national discussion about The NFL and how we hold violent people responsible. It’s a problem we all must face. This is a community problem that can’t just be addressed in the therapy room. We need to have it discussed over tea, watching commercials, while tweeting, and with our teens. We need to be more nimble at admitting marital spats and talking openly about problems. These are not isolated incidents. Pro sports has had other tragic stories. Former Chiefs player Jovan Belcher murdered Kasandra Perkins before taking his own life in 2013. Receiver Rae Carruth was found guilty in 2001 of conspiring to kill Cherica Adams, who was carrying his child. Defensive tackle Ray McDonald was arrested this month over Labor Day weekend. The NFL will wait to see if someone is charged before issuing any decision.
Thank God we know how to stop violence in the home. We don’t know how to install the software system called respect. We know the rules of fair fighting, every kindergarten child learns them. But when someone hurts us, do we know how to ask for help. Therapists can help. Uncles can help. Trusted girlfriends can help. Nurses can help. Don’t be afraid to ask. 877-785-2020 (24 hours).
Be Safe and Courageous.