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I know, you’re thinking “What the heck is she doing thanking the NFL?” I have a point, I promise. The National Football League has been dominating the news of late, and it’s not just because the men in tight pants bending over for each other are back on our weekly TV schedules. One of their players, Ray Rice, punched his then fiancé in the face and knocked her out a couple months ago, and it was all caught on video. That’s why the NFL is in the news. I actually had planned to write about the NFL and their policy on domestic abuse a while back, after reading an article in the paper describing the leagues policies. Apparently, if you hit your wife, for example, the first time could get you a six-game suspension. Do it again, and you could face a lifetime ban. My first issue is with the “could”, because that means you may only get a two-game suspension like Ray Rice did, or if your wife or lover really deserved it, then maybe you could get off with a heartfelt apology and a bunch of people standing up for your character, defending your “mistake.” (That’s sarcasm people.) The other issue I have is with the offer of letting the player beat the crap out of his girlfriend a second time before really suffering the consequences. Look, as parents attempting to guide our children’s behavior, we often make concessions and yes, a lot of times we give in to whining and crying just to get them to be quiet. How many times have you said to your child “If you wipe another booger on the couch, you’ll be in big trouble”? Ok, maybe you haven’t said that exactly, but my point is, why give your child another chance to do something that he/she knows is completely unacceptable? And I’m talking about kids who haven’t fully developed the capacity for right and wrong yet, but still know they shouldn’t wipe boogers on couches. I shouldn’t be talking about grown men who are paid ridiculous amounts of money to bandy about an arena for several hours every weekend giving us an excuse to eat crappy food, drink beer, and sit on our asses. DO NOT HIT SOMEONE YOU SAY YOU LOVE! EVER! You don’t get a second chance. Ray Rice punched his fiancé, knocked her unconscious and then dragged her out of an elevator. The NFL said, “Dude, you can’t do that because you make us look bad, so we’re going to slap you on the wrist and make you sit on the sidelines for two games and think about your behavior.” Oh wait, now that the NFL has seen the whole video, they’ve decided that Rice should be suspended indefinitely. Yeah, BS, it’s more because it became a story and that the NFL realized they screwed up the first time and now they’re covering their collective asses and trying to do right by the public through the media. If you go to the official website of the NFL, you have to scroll pretty far down to find anything on the Rice case. You will however, pass a piece about another player who was just arrested for alleged child abuse. He says he was disciplining his kid. Let’s see how the NFL handles this one.

I hadn’t written about this topic yet, because well, everyone else was. It was a scene I came upon yesterday afternoon that had me shaking though, and I realized I needed to write. I was walking my dog and chatting on the phone with a friend when I saw an older couple on the corner. The man looked angry. The woman looked frightened. I noticed a few other people had also stopped or slowed down. The angry man grabbed the woman by the arm and continued to yell at her. At that moment several of us bystanders made our move towards the couple, ready to get involved. The man let her go and stormed off. The woman, visibly shaken, headed in my direction. I had all sorts of ideas about who these people were, but when I asked the woman if she was ok and if she needed help, her answer stunned me. She said “Yeah, I’m ok. He’s crazy, I really should divorce him.” The angry man screaming at her on the corner in front of countless people, ultimately putting his hands on her, is her husband. She’s been putting up with this behavior for who knows how long and it made me so sad. I told her she could get out and that there was plenty of help available to her if she wanted it. She said thank you and walked off. I was reminded of the battered woman’s shelter my mother had opened more than 20 years ago when we lived in New Orleans. The sweatshirts and t-shirts, notepads and pens, were all emblazoned with the same slogan “Every 8 seconds….”. It meant that every 8 seconds a woman is battered, and that could be physical or mental abuse. I shudder to think what that number might be today. Here is where I express my gratitude to the NFL, for screwing up so majorly, but in the process, giving us a platform to talk about an issue that doesn’t get talked about nearly enough. Maybe some battered person is out there watching as Ray Rice’s now wife, stands by him and says he’s a good man, and the split screen shows his fist connecting with her face, just maybe, they’ll get the courage to stand up as well. Stand up, and walk out! If you, or someone you know is being abused, please get help. You can go to the National Domestic Violence website, or call 1-800-799-7233.

Stay well.