DV and Sport and Gender (Day 15)
Welcome to the Anion Sports 25 Days of Christmas blog. Today is Day 15 and this post is inspired by a topic we had to write about as a part of my Sport and Gender class this semester. If you take nothing away from this blog, please remember to treat your fellow humans with respect and love instead of disrespect and hate.
Domestic violence is something that has been plaguing the NFL world. It all came to a head with the impact of the Ray Rice case. Ever since that infamous dropping of the ball, the league has tried to be stricter with its punishments. The most recent example of the book being thrown at an NFL player was Ezekiel Elliot, running back for the Dallas Cowboys.
Although the details of the case are available, my opinion on the matter has remained the same. If Zeke did something wrong, he should be punished. But the case was dropped against him and he was not convicted amid reports that the alleged victim was abused. This is the tricky portion; how do you know who to believe in these instances? Our instinct is to believe the person who is accusing the hulking man of a person of being violent. But do we label them prematurely, creating a double standard?
Prior to the last year, I was steadfast in the fact that I didn’t dig deep enough to discover the details behind each case; usually resigned to believing what was being reported in the news. My thought process has since changed on the matter after going through something similar.
About eight months ago, I was involved in a domestic dispute in which I was physically assaulted. The incident occurred amidst me trying to protect said individual from harming themselves. It was a very confusing event because never in my head did I feel like striking back. Maybe due to the fact I was very concerned for the wellbeing of the person. But man, was I mad. To the point that I walked 40 minutes from my apartment at night to blow off some steam.
Over the next couple of days, my abuser (is that what they call that?) repeatedly contacted me and displayed stalker-ish behavior that resulted in further physical action against me. This was multiple times mind you. One such conversation involved me asking why this was being done to me and what I should have done back instead of ignoring the person and walking away. I was surprised when I was told it would’ve been better for me to hit back instead of ignoring this person.
After one last incident that occurred in public, the police were called into the matter. Mind you, up until this point, I had not laid a hand on my abuser. I blame it partially on the confusion I was experiencing, but also the gentle nature I possess. I am one of the nicest people you will meet in life and I truly believe that was being used against me.
While not excusing actions that men take against women, how many of these situations occur where they are being verbally, physically and mentally abused and are expected to do nothing? Hit back, you’re labeled an abuser. Contact the police, the story gets flipped on you. I had that happen to me. The person in my life decided to lie and say that I had hit them when it was simply not true. Sometimes I wonder what would have happened if I had been a physically imposing, tall, black male. Would I have been given the benefit of the doubt? What if there were no witnesses, no texts saved, no pictures taken? Who would have believed me?
Not excusing athletes, but in a lot of cases there are multiple angles. It is not just incumbent on us to teach our males about these issues. We must also educate our women about how to deescalate a situation. Not that this occurs in a lot of cases, but I do sympathize partially with Ezekiel Elliot. Many details of the case depict a man who has been subject to someone he trusted, and they took advantage of that. If it was to happen to me, a young man who has not hit the pinnacle of his career and life, why wouldn’t our athletes get targeted more? Again, this is not the case in a lot of situations, but there are evil people out there that seek to do harm for no apparent reason. When you add some form of monetary gain to the equation, they now have an incentive. And it hurts the people who are legitimate victims.
In conclusion, I can speak from personal experience on this matter. Some days it is hard to even think about it. I like to think of myself as a strong person, at least that’s what I believe I project outwardly to others. But to have your trust violated and your right to not be abused taken from you, what do you do? No one deserves to be abused, to be hit. We must acknowledge that the current system can paint men in a negative aspect that can be abused by some women to their advantage. In some cases, it is like they can hit us with no consequence. And that’s not fair. I will never advocate violence on anyone. Simply remembering what our parents teach us is enough: keep your hands to yourself. You do not own a person. You do not have the right to put your hands on them. That week eight months ago was straight from hell and impacted my life then and now. And I am a person who has the patience to restrain. Imagine putting someone who is trained from their youth to show aggression and physicality and gets celebrated for it. Would they react the same? Everyone has a breaking point. We as people need to gain a better respect for our fellow people. Because no one deserves to be abused.