I’m all about having fun. Sweetness and light and creativity and reading and writing and playing all have important places in my life. I like having a good time. Fun is my friend. That’s why I don’t want to write about this topic. At all. But I feel like I have to.
I don’t pretend to have all the facts on this particular incident. I don’t pretend to know what was going on before the now infamous elevator assault. I can’t imagine all that has gone on since. I do know that this NFL player assaulted his then fiancee (now wife) and it was caught on video. He knocked her unconscious, then apparently dragged her out of the elevator. I haven’t seen the video for myself, and have no intention of viewing it. I don’t need to see it. I don’t want to see it. I get it without the video evidence.
The really sad thing is that people hurt other people all the time. The people they hurt most tend to be the ones closest to them- their partners, their children, even their parents. Assaults like this take place every day in every state across this country, and I imagine in most other parts of the world. This situation just happens to involve a high profile professional athlete, so we’ve heard about it. Add in the video for major shock value, and now you can’t turn on the tv or radio without catching some commentary on the incident.
This assault, and its handling by the NFL, has become big news. Again, this is but one brutal act among far too many to count, but this one has made headlines. As such, I can’t ignore it. Why? Because I am the mother to a sports loving teenage son.
My son is more interested in stats and information than in actually watching games, which is fine with me, but it means that he knows a lot of facts and figures about most of the players in the league. He knows what these guys can do and have done, at least in regards to the game. He also knows tons of random trivia about them. He can tell you about their college days, their injuries, and their endorsement deals. In some instances he can even tell you about their criminal records. That’s crazy.
Professional athletes get a lot of media exposure, for better or for worse. Their actions influence others, particularly young men who wish to emulate them. Certainly there are many fine role models in the ranks of professional athletes, but they don’t tend to get the same exposure as the players who break the law. Too often if someone is a good player, their other flaws are overlooked. What a horrible message to send to young people. Be as awful a human being as you want, as long as you have a highly sought after marketable skill. Your employer will look the other way, as long as you don’t do anything TOO awful. Of course that’s not reality for most of us, and frankly most of us wouldn’t want it that way. Who would our coworkers be? Would we feel safe at work?
That brings me to another question. Why is this man’s employer the one to decide what happens as a result of his actions? Why has the criminal justice system not taken this situation a bit more seriously? Oh sure, she was at fault too, I’m told. She even said so.
Now I’m not an expert, but isn’t that what often happens in domestic violence situations? Don’t people (usually women) accept responsibility for causing abuse in many instances? Isn’t knocking someone unconscious a problem even if they did make you upset? In my world, yes, it’s a huge problem.
How does this situation affect my son? Well, it means that he and I will continue our dialogue on what it means to be human and to have relationships with others. We will revisit the territories of respect and boundaries and right and wrong. We’ll postulate reasons why someone might stay with an abuser (an unthinkable situation in his mind), and brainstorm some possible alternatives. And once again we’ll talk about the fact that love and violence should never live in the same house.
I hate that this situation happened, but I’m glad it reopened difficult conversations, both in my house, and outside of it. May all the people who are living in abusive situations find the strength and means to find safety and help, and may those who misuse their power for harm instead of good find a new way of being that shares love and beauty, not fear and anger.