I would like to thank the unidentified employee of the now-closed Revel Casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey, who leaked the video of the NFL player Ray Rice punching his fiancée in the head, knocking her unconscious.
The employee likely sold the video to TMZ for thousands of dollars. In my opinion, it was worth every penny he or she received, because now the public’s attention is focused on the issue of domestic violence.
It’s about time.
In the U.S., 20 people per minute are victims of physical violence by an intimate partner, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The cost of intimate partner rape, physical assault and stalking exceeds $5.8 billion each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Domestic violence is a massive problem. And now, finally, people are talking about it.
6 NFL players benched
Six — count them, six — NFL players are off the football field because they’ve been charged with domestic violence. They are:
- Ray Rice, running back with the Baltimore Ravens, whose punch started the NFL scandal
- Adrian Peterson, running back with the Minnesota Vikings, accused of abusing his 4-year-old son.
- Greg Hardy, defensive end with the Carolina Panthers, convicted of misdemeanor assault of his girlfriend.
- Jonathan Dwyer, running back with the Arizona Cardinals, arrested for assaulting a woman and child.
- Ray McDonald, defensive tackle with the San Francisco 49ers, arrested for domestic violence.
- Quincy Enunwa, wide receiver with the New York Jets practice squad, charged with assault
Read about the cases here:
Benched: NFL players out amid claims of violence, on CNN.com.
While these players are out of the game, 10 other NFL players who were previously arrested for domestic violence or related charges are still playing, according to NBC News. They are:
- Chris Cook of the San Francisco 49ers
- Tony McDaniel and Kevin Williams of the Seattle Seahawks
- Brandon Marshall and Santonio Holmes of the Chicago Bears
- Dez Bryant of the Dallas Cowboys
- Erik Walden of the Indianapolis Colts
- Donte Whitner of the Cleveland Browns
- Randy Starks of the Miami Dolphins
- Frostee Rucker of the Arizona Cardinals
Click the link below to read summaries of what happened in all of their cases.
Still Playing: 12 NFL players have domestic violence arrests, on NBCNews.com.
Since the above NBC News article was published, two of the men who were going to play — Greg Hardy of the Carolina Panthers and Ray McDonald of the San Francisco 49ers — have been benched.
Hardy was found guilty of assaulting and threatening to kill his ex-girlfriend in May. McDonald was arrested for allegedly assaulting his pregnant fiancée in August. The other players cited in the NBC News story were involved in incidents that took place in 2012 or earlier. Many of them received one-game suspensions, or no NFL sanctions at all.
So why are players now being benched, when previously they received a slap on the wrist?
It would be nice to think that the NFL is finally doing the right thing. But I think it’s all about the money.
Ray Rice and Roger Goodell
Don Van Natta Jr., of ESPN’s investigative unit called Outside the Lines, wrote a scathing expose of the NFL’s handling of the Ray Rice incident. Read:
Essentially, according to ESPN, when Ray Rice was first arrested, the owners of the Baltimore Ravens did everything they could to make his problem go away. They helped Rice retain a top criminal attorney, and they lobbied NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell for light sanctions from the league.
Why? Because Ray Rice was the face of the Baltimore Ravens football franchise. He appeared in ads for a major team sponsor, M&T Bank. The bank had signed a 15-year, $75 million sponsorship deal with the Ravens in 2003, and extended it for $60 million in May.
Ray Rice was able to get into a pretrial intervention program in Atlantic County, New Jersey, and the NFL suspended him for only two games.
But then TMZ published the video from inside the casino elevator that showed Rice punching his fiancée in the head. It quickly went viral.
So now the public is upset. And when the public gets upset, sponsors — like the Anheuser-Busch, McDonald’s, Visa, Campbell’s Soup and Proctor & Gamble — get upset. Read:
Beer sponsor Anheuser-Busch reproaches NFL over domestic abuse, on Sports.Yahoo.com.
If sponsors pull their advertising dollars, the NFL could lose millions.
So what happened next? According to ESPN, Roger Goodell and the NFL threw Ray Rice under the bus. They accused him of downplaying the incident, when others, even Ravens Coach John Harbaugh, said Ray Rice never lied about what he had done, and was remorseful.
Domestic violence and sociopaths
Many, many Lovefraud readers have experienced violence from their intimate partners.
According to Dr. Liane Leedom, studies of male perpetrators of domestic violence reveal that 50% of them are sociopaths, and another 25% have sociopathic traits but not the full disorder.
That means 25% of the men who assault their partners are not sociopaths and do not have sociopathic traits. So what happens?
Sometimes drugs or alcohol are involved. There is a statistical correlation between substance abuse and domestic violence, although this does not mean that substance abuse causes domestic violence.
And sometimes, domestic violence is a one-time thing. According to a report by the U.S. Department of Justice, 35% of women and 34% of men who are physically assaulted by an intimate partner are assaulted only once. The report also shows that most physical assaults are relatively minor.
Now, I do not intend to condone or excuse any form of domestic violence. But there are times when it just happens, when a person is so upset and emotional that he or she just loses it and lashes out. The person is immediately and truly remorseful, and it never happens again.
Back to Ray Rice
If the ESPN story is accurate, what happened with Ray Rice and his fiancé, Janay Palmer, could be one of those “only once” incidents. Van Natta wrote that while celebrating Valentine’s Day at the Revel Casino with two other couples, they had dinner, drank wine and then split at least one bottle of tequila. Both Ray Rice and Janay Palmer were intoxicated and heatedly arguing when they got into the elevator.
Alcohol and arguing could have led to the assault.
According to the ESPN article, when reporting to the Ravens, Rice did not try to cover up or minimize his actions, as a true sociopath would do. According to his friends, Rice was genuinely remorseful. And the Atlantic County Prosecutor allowed him into the pretrial intervention program because Rice had no previous record.
Of course, I have no personal knowledge of the incident, and I am relying on media reporting, which is always risky. What Ray Rice did was totally, unequivocally wrong. But if he is indeed one of the men who genuinely regrets his action, then the NFL’s handling of his case is even more despicable.
Domestic Violence in the NFL
Benjamin Morris, writing for the website FiveThirtyEight.com, analyzed arrest records for the NFL, which are publicly available in the USAToday NFL Arrests Database.
Morris compared the arrest rate among NFL players, who have an average age of 25 to 27 years old, to Bureau of Justice statistics of national arrest rates for men aged 25 to 29.
Morris found that the NFL arrest rate is just 13% of the national average. But the highest category of arrests for NFL players was domestic violence.
“Domestic violence accounts for 48% of arrests for violent crimes among NFL players, compared to our estimated 21% nationally,” Morris wrote. Read:
The rate of domestic violence arrests among NFL players, on FiveThirtyEight.com.
Luckily, the NFL is in a position to do something about the rate of domestic violence among the players. These guys are making a lot of money. If they know that by assaulting their wives or girlfriends they risk losing their multi-million dollar jobs, they may think twice before they punch. This is good.
If the NFL continues to educate their teams and the public about the scourge of domestic violence, and support domestic violence organizations, this would be great.
Police and family violence
Now I wish someone could do something about the police.
According to the National Center for Women and Policing, two studies have found that at least 40% of police officer families experience domestic violence, compared to 10% of families in the general population.
Even worse, police officers often get away with domestic violence. In an article for TheAtlantic.com, here’s how Conor Friedersdorf described the situation in many police departments:
Domestic abuse is underreported. Police officers are given the benefit of the doubt by colleagues in borderline cases. Yet even among police officers who were charged, arrested, and convicted of abuse, more than half kept their jobs.
Read: Police have a much bigger domestic abuse problem than the NFL, on TheAtlantic.com
Can police departments change? Can society change?
At least now, because of Ray Rice and the NFL, domestic violence is being talked about. It’s a first step in the right direction.