By Shana Thornton
I am not one to usually belabor the horror of the past. Positivity is generally my scope of focus. Yet, I do whole-heartedly believe there are powerful and life-changing lessons to be learned from even dark and traumatic events. Unfortunately, we all may recall some domestic violence incidents involving some very well-known professional athletes in 2014. Mainstream media allowed us to capture a glimpse of violent incidents perpetrated by some familiar names.
Video allowed millions to witness running back Ray Rice punch his girlfriend out cold while arguing in a hotel elevator and photos surfaced of the horrifying marks and bruises running back Adrian Peterson left on his then young 4 year old son. And yet there are other domestic violent incidents and cases that have wavered in the media involving other well-known or now infamous individuals. Regardless of your approval or dismay of Roger Goodell's handling of domestic violence in the NFL, there is one issue that is definitive. Domestic violence is still a major concern in our society. This problem goes beyond the NFL.
Yes, I have heard the argument from several individuals that famous people supposedly have no more reported cases of domestic violence than the average person. I think the key word to focus on in my last statement is reported. I recently spoke to a very experienced domestic violence expert and she assured me that many violent family incidents go unreported to authorities. Thus, no statistics can ever confirm or deny the growing claim by some people that the media is blowing the notion of domestic violence out of proportion.
I know this- one punch in the face in an elevator is way too many. One violent shove in a restroom is more than enough. One senseless beating of a 4 year old child that leaves open and painful wounds several days later is insane. Lastly, one explanation of why any of the mentioned incidents may be justified is truly ridiculous and illogical. I loathe to think that anyone would justify such irrational behavior; yet, it happens more than I would like to acknowledge.
No, it's not October, which is famously tagged as Domestic Violence Awareness Month. According to schedule, I am about a month early for a very good reason. The issue will not just go away. We have to start eradicating the problem now by teaching our children that hitting is wrong. Anger, rage, or so-called tradition will never justify physical violence. It is unwarranted and should be rejected every step of the way. Everyone and I mean literally everyone should be held accountable for their actions- that includes celebrated and beloved celebrities also.
We should all remember that domestic violence is alive in our culture. Although the world seemed to have been woken up by now infamous video footage and graphic photographs in the news, may we always be reminded that countless women, men, and children know all too well first hand about this sad cycle. Before and after October, victims continue to suffer. As I assumed, the media attention did move on from the well-known incidents that occurred last year. Sadly, some very critical messaging got abandoned when the tide changed. I hope we all realize that the violence in homes throughout this nation will not necessarily wither away. Our children are watching it all- our reactions and comments to everything. Silence is unacceptable. This madness has to end. Remember that physical abuse is a crime...period.
Change has to start with all of us. I hope you don't wait until the month of October to have this conversation with a loved one. The time is now- well, it should be now.