The DOUBLE STANDARD….

Well, well. Here we go again. 

Domestic violence is in the news again. Or should I say the word assault is in the news again.

De’Andre Johnson is today’s poster boy for what happens if you put your hands on a female. The former Mr. Florida is all over the internet, particularly social media, after a video was released of him assaulting a female at a bar. Oh, but it is not that simple. This is not an open and shut case If you have not watched the video, please do. 

Continue reading “The DOUBLE STANDARD….”

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Victims stories shatter myths…

Yesterday afternoon as the aftermath of Ray Rice’s release and suspension continue to send shockwaves throughout the sporting community and beyond, two trends took off that begin to put everything in to perspective: #WhyIStayed and #WhyILeft. Initially, I chose not to read the tweets. I had already spent time writing about the situation, was engulfed in discussions about the situation and my Twitter mentions were too much to keep up with. I needed a break from it.

However, before I went to bed last night I decided to take a look. My mom had told me how powerful the hashtags were and that I should read them. I laid down thinking I owe it to these victims, these victims who are courageous enough to take 140 characters and explain their story. As I lay in my bed, my eyes filled with tears as I read tweet after tweet of women AND men who shared their whys. From not understanding what love was suppose to look like to being told over and over it would never happen again to believing things would change to believing the abuser wanted to change to being afraid of children getting hurt in the process to being afraid that leaving would literally mean a choice between life and death…the stories were gripping. They were REAL.

The tweets tell a story…a story of manipulation, fear, paranoia, lies, pain, anguish, hurt, sadness, depression, unworthiness, deceit, deception, persuasion, coercion, threats, humiliation, rape, assault. The tweets tell stories from those who have lived it. The tweets tell stories from those who have suffered through it. The tweets tell stories from those who made excuses. The tweets combat the assumptions I have seen spewed all over social media…those who blame the victim, those who make ASSUMPTIONS about why a person stayed or their actions, those who think it is easy to walk away from situations of this magnitude.

If you have not been in that type of situation then it will be hard for you to understand. I cannot fathom being in an abusive relationship. So instead of trying to understand it from my “I would never allow that to happen” point of view, I try to understand it from a why does this happen point of view? I am reading to see if I can understand where the disconnect happened in the victim’s life to justify the first blow they ever received. I am reading to understand what signs I should be looking for. I am reading to understand how I can help. I am reading to understand what more needs to be done. I am reading to understand why this topic is just now getting this type of attention. I am reading to understand how some got the courage to leave.

We rarely hear the stories of victory.  We rarely hear the stories of the victims who left in the middle of the night and drove for hours just to start a new life, free from their abuser. We rarely hear the stories of the victims who secretly planned their escape for months. We rarely hear the stories of the victims who were one step from suicide but found the strength to decide that they were worth more than that. More than anything, #WhyILeft is a rallying cry. It is a rallying cry for those that are still living in the nightmare of abuse. It is a rallying cry to let them know that  life outside of their situation, that they can be victorious and that love does not come with fists. It is a rallying cry for those that took matters into their own hands. It is a rallying cry for those who finally know their worth. It is a rallying cry that sends a signal to those who cannot understand…check your assumptions at the door because they have a story to tell.

P.S. There are so many causes out here that need our attention. We all cannot be fully dedicated to raising awareness for every cause that plagues our country/world but we can make a difference in certain areas. I challenge you all, if you are not already involved with a cause, to get involved. It should not take a national news story for you to want to help. Actions speak louder than words. What do yours say about you??

Fists, Lies & Videotape

My spidey senses did not perk up this morning when I turned on ESPN2 and saw that Adam Schefter was sitting at the First Take desk with Stephen A. Smith, Skip Bayless and Cari Champion. Yesterday marked the first NFL Sunday of the season so I simply thought he was there to discuss that.

WRONG.

Disgusted. Sickened. Sad. The first three emotions I experienced this morning as I stood, stunned watching the newly released footage of Ray Rice TKO’ing his then fiance, Janay Palmer, in an elevator. To say I was disturbed to see what I saw would be an understatement. For weeks now, the talk has been about NFL Commissioner Roger Goddell and his light penalty(a two game suspension) concerning Ray Rice. The suspension is a topic I have not written about NOT because it does not concern me but because I simply chose not to write about it. About a month ago, I addressed the Rice situation when Smith found himself in hot water for what many called was him implying that it was ok for men to hit women. Everything I said on July 30, I stand by.

However, what I do not stand by is the way the this situation has been handled. Not by the NFL, not by the Baltimore Ravens, not by Rice, not by his wife, not by the prosecutors. When Rice and his wife held their press conference, together sitting far apart, I knew something was off. The fact that two people who had been involved in a physical altercation were presenting a united front was disturbing.  If the NFL thinks I believe that TODAY is the first day they have seen the video of Rice landing his best ‘Iron’ Mike Tyson left hook on his now wife then then I must also believe that the Loch Ness Monster and Bigfoot are real. One of the powers that be saw that video. Maybe not Goddell but somebody. The NFL expects me to believe that they asked for all video footage but were not given the video inside the elevator but TMZ was?? We are talking about the same NFL that is one of the most powerful organizations in the world, not the country, the WORLD. Excuse me while I go watch Pinocchio’s nose grow.

What I saw take place in that elevator was enough to bring tears to my eyes. Yes, I saw a woman, who in the elevator, made contact first. I then saw a man levy a hit so hard that it knocked her out of the picture, literally. I then saw a man who, according to his non verbal language, was not overly concerned with the fact that the unconscious woman laying at his feet was the woman he had pledged all his love to the day he put a ring on her left hand. I then saw a man, not pick up but drag his soon to be wife out of the elevator and leave here laying there on a cold, hotel lobby floor as he seemed to contemplate what to do next.

None of us knows for sure what happened before they got into that elevator. We know what they said and we know what others have said. To me, it looks like a relationship that was plagued with domestic violence before hand that either no one seemed to know about or one where the issues were hidden very well. His actions upset me. A LOT. Even if she was the one that delivered the first blow, which is wrong and puts you in a position to get what you dished out, the amount of force in which he used should be enough to make anyone sick to their stomach. Assault is never ok. Domestic violence is never ok. What I saw is never ok. Oh and two wrongs do not make a right.

I have heard plenty of people say over and over that I should not be upset with the NFL because this is a social issue not an NFL issue. I often wonder out loud if they have been paying attention to the same NFL I watch. If it has nothing to do with the NFL then why does the league have policies concerning conduct, drugs and steroids. Domestic violence is a social issue that effects many affiliated with various companies and organizations including the NFL. In July, Goddell had an opportunity to set a standard when it comes to an issue that has been swept up under the rug for too long. He had a chance to issue a suspension that spoke volumes about how the governor of the NFL feels in regards to domestic violence. He had a chance to stand up for domestic violence victims, both women and men, and say this will not be tolerated in our league. Instead, he handed out a punishment that was the equivalent of what our parents used to dish out to us for missing curfew, lying or letting our friends wreck our new bike.  Shoot, in a lot of cases parents levied a stricter punishment.

If I heard right this morning, then there is a certain policy in the Collective Barganining Agreement in which Goddell could retroactively issue a stiffer punishment on Rice. Should he? I am on the fence about that one. Part of me says he should have handled it right the first time. Part of me says he should go back and hand out a longer suspension. Another part of me wants him to have to face the inferno that is headed towards him in light of the new evidence. Now that I think about it, hand out a longer suspension and face the inferno at the same time. Stand up and admit you dropped the ball. Stand up and admit you thought this would go away. Stand up and admit that the NFL is an organization that has the power to bring awareness to certain topics. Stand up and admit that you should have done more.  Stand up for victims who cannot stand up for theirselves.

Stand up for your daughters. You owe it to them.

 

Until next time…TOODELLS.

 

P.S. As I was finishing this post, I got word that the Ravens have released Rice. Does not change anything I said above.

P.P.S. Let us all take a stand and fight this issue head on. We can speak up for all victims. GIVE THEM A VOICE!!

The Domestic Violence/Stephen A. Smith Wake-Up Call

No need for an introduction paragraph. Let me get straight to the point.

I debated for a while if I would address this Stephen A. Smith controversy. As a communication major, the word implication urks me to my core. To use the word implication brings in to the conversation that you interpreted my words a certain way whether that is what I meant or not.

We saw it happen last week with Coach Tony Dungy. His statement regarding the drafting of Michael Sam was very clear. If he was still coaching and had the opportunity to draft him, he would have chosen not to because he would not have wanted the distractions that came along with drafting Sam. Somehow, this implied that he would not draft him because of his sexuality. Somehow, this implied that Dungy hated Sam because of his sexuality. Somehow, this implied that Dungy was a Bible thumping Christian who hated people who do not live according to his beliefs.

Seriously? Assumptions were made without research being done. Assumptions were made by people based off what they saw on social media. Assumptions were made simply based off Dungy’s religious beliefs. There were numerous discussions I shut down by pointing out this one simple fact: what Dungy said lined up with his philosophy that he used for years while coaching in the NFL-minimize distractions. Think about it. When he was coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, how many times did you hear of negative happenings in their camp? When Dungy was coach of the Indianapolis Colts, how many times did you hear of negative happenings in their camp? Exactly.

People are quick to twist your words whether you pretzeled them or not.

Back to Smith. I have been a follower of Smith’s work for years. I have always loved his passion for sports and his unique views when addressing certain topics. When I returned home Monday, I was surprised to learn that he was in “hot water” because he “alluded” to the fact that women can provoke men to be abusive while discussing the two game suspension of Ray Rice(who was charged with assault on his then fiance earlier this year). My first reaction was um ok. What did he say wrong? If that is all he said, then what is the issue. However, I knew what the issue was. I have been engulfed in this world of communication long enough to know where this was headed. Unfortunately, I knew it was towards a place that throws up another barrier when it comes to addressing issues that are plaguing our country.

This morning I watched the clip of Smith’s original diatribe on Friday. I also watched his apology that he issued on Monday and I have concluded that what is being lost in this country right now is the right to opinion. Mainly, the right to have an opinion that differs from what is “politically correct” at the moment. Everyone in this country is entitled to their opinion. Everyone in this country is technically protected by the First Amendment guaranteeing them free speech. With that being acknowledged, I acknowledge the fact that there are some things that are unacceptable when it comes to what comes out of ones mouth. However, you are still entitled to your opinion.

What Smith offered up was just that, an opinion. It was not the one that you have probably heard spewed all over the media though. Not once did Smith say that it was ok for a man to hit a woman. Not once did Smith say that a woman deserves to be hit by a man. Not once did Smith insinuate that domestic violence is ok. In fact, he REPEATEDLY reiterated that domestic violence is NEVER ok.

What Smith did was open the door to discuss what has increasingly become an issue that is rarely addressed. Now before you tangle my words, let me be clear. Domestic violence is NEVER ok. NEVER. Let’s break this down though because I understood exactly what Smith was saying. When he alluded to women provoking men, I got it. We(women) know the kind of power we have. Well, most of us do. Most of us also know that there are a lot of men out here who respect women enough to to not lay hands on us. However, there are a lot of men who were raised in environments where this was ok. In turn, they are teaching their young sons that this is an acceptable way to handle their business simply because this is all they know.

At the same time, women know how to push buttons. Been there, done that. If we have not done it ourselves, we have been witness to a woman pushing a man’s buttons so hard that it takes everything in that man to not act on instinct. I have seen women unleash verbal assaults on men that were so lethal that my defending instincts were put on alert. From what I have heard, Smith called in to question the roll Rice’s wife played in the situation. Reports have consistently stated that she was also verbally and physically abusive towards him that night. He also brought up the fact that up until this point, this was out of character for Rice.

Honestly, we can take the domestic aspect out of the conversation and just look at it from a standpoint of person to person. While growing up, there were times that I provoked my mama into reminding me who was the parent. After my lips stop stinging from the quickness of her backhand, I duly noted in my young mind that I might not want to do that again. Did I deserve it? Some will argue no. I say yes. That is the way she chose t discipline me at times. I caused that reaction from her. I provoked her. If I had just gone to my room and pitched a fit behind closed doors, like I did most times, then my lips would not still be tingling minutes later.

While the outcomes of parental discipline and domestic violence are different, the root is the same in some instances. Most people can only take so much chastising, verbal abuse and insults before they reach their boiling point. We all know that when people reach their boiling point things sometimes happen that can take the calmest person out of their character. Domestic violence is not just physical. It is mental as well as emotional. A man that abuses physically can be provoked by a woman who abuses emotionally. Is he wrong? Yes. Is she wrong? Yes.

In opening up the avenue for discussion about this topic, Smith created a firestorm. It is one that I hope will now lead to a discussion that needs to be had on a daily basis and not for just five minutes on ESPN.

Until next time…TOODELLS.