The Invisible Fence

NFL Football star of the Dallas Cowboys, Greg Hardy, has been in the news a lot lately. Headlines have featured his arrest for the violent assault of his then-girlfriend Nicole Hardy, the dismissal of the abuse charge, and now the recent change in his Twitter bio to "Innocent until proven guilty." All of this attention around Hardy has raised serious questions concerning his arrest -- questions like: Why were the charges dismissed? Was it lack of evidence that let Hardy go free -- if so did the abuse even occur at all? And why is Holden, the supposed battered woman, not speaking out against her abuser?

A recent article titled "This is Why NFL Star Greg Hardy Was Arrested for Assaulting His Girlfriend" in Deadspin tries to answer all these questions. The evidence that author Diana Moskovitz reveals is shocking -- Hardy's reports about the night changed multiple times while Holden's remained mostly consistent, the bruises on Hardy appeared self-inflicted while Holden's certainty exhibited signs of abuse. Despite this evidence, Hardy was "declared legally innocent" and now Holden is nowhere to be found for comment on the case.

Holden's "disappearance", failure to report previous abuse by Hardy, and just the fact that she put herself in the presence of her once-abusive boyfriend on the night of the incident, all beg the question: Why did she stay with Hardy? By asking the question "why does she stay", there is a belief that the victim is responsible for her own abusive situation. As I explain in my book Ending Domestic Violence Captivity: The Guide to Economic Freedom, staying is not a choice. It is not out of free will that the victim stays to suffer, but "it is captivity imposed by a great imbalance of power that keeps victims from permanently ending the violent relationship" (3). Holden felt this imbalance of power herself when she explained to the police in her first statement that, "It doesn't matter" and "Nothing is going to happen to him anyways". Blaming the victim for staying demonstrates society's "Incomplete understanding of domestic violence, its tyrannical nature, and its dehumanizing effects" (34).

The domestic captivity of abuse victims, or the inability to leave an abusive relationship, is not unique to Holden's case. Staying is, unfortunately, universal. As I explain in my book, "While every individual, every intimate relationship, is unique, we know the "staying" behavior is a constant" (36). I reject the idea that the victim makes the decision to stay in the relationship and that is why I have created the organization, Second Chance, with the mission to create a lasting escape and solution for victims of violence. Empowering abuse victims, like Holden, with the resources to leave permanently is the only way to release a victim from domestic captivity. Victims can't escape unless they have a sustainable life waiting for them outside of the abusive situation. As I describe in my book, "At Second Chance we exclude from consideration the role of some hidden desire or willfulness on the part of the victim to stay beaten and terrorized; we focus instead on empowering her to leave" (37). To learn more about Second Chance and support our efforts in the fight again domestic violence, visit out website here.