I've been a domestic violence and sexual assault advocate for over 10 years and to this day my passion lies with helping individuals and couples achieve and sustain happy and healthy relationships.
I'm also a HUGE sports fan. And for those of you that know me...you know I mean HUGE!
These two parts of me have been in conflict for many years and even more so in the past few months as the reports of abuse and violence perpetrated by athletes seem to be growing. Any given Sunday (or any day of the week) I'm watching these amazing gifted athletes perform to amazing heights on the field or court, only to be updated about their off the field abusive and violent behaviors which is typically followed by minimal to no consequences by the league and pathetic excuses/apologies by the athlete themselves.
But today I can breathe a little easier knowing that a small step has been made in creating a consequence for someone who by all observable indications severely abused his now wife on newly released video footage. Raven's RB Ray Rice was released from his NFL contract today and indefinitely suspended from the league. Hallelujah!
It's absolutely a step in the right direction, but let's not lose sight of the work we have left to do. Because abuse and violence are something we all have a hand in preventing.
We prevent violence by how we model relationships to our children.
We prevent violence when we socialize our sons and daughters to respect and love with their words and their actions.
We prevent violence in the way we speak out when we see or hear about someone being abused.
We prevent violence when we stand together and say "No, this isn't love!"
We prevent violence when we demand more from our role models and our institutions who are getting it wrong over and over again.
We prevent violence when we reach out to someone who is too scared or abused to know they have a voice to speak out too.
I hope that we all use the suspension of Ray Rice as a way to create more movement and more action towards a community and world I'm proud to raise my children in. Because the truth is love should never hurt and if it is, then it's time to reach out for help.
If you are or know of someone is in an unhealthy or abusive relationship, it's never too late to get help.
Please call and use me as a resource (firstname.lastname@example.org, 916.955.3200) or visit the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV.org) to find out more about the resources in your own community.
Yours in love, respect and prevention,