what the hell is going on with the NFL & domestic violence?

Often, I am an annoyingly upbeat person. My positive attitude not only keeps me afloat, but is what drives me and inspires me. I take pride in the fact that almost nothing can throw me off my game or make me a negative person.

But these last couple weeks have, for real, been struggles. I find myself snapping with the smallest things (sorry, mom – and no, I haven’t done laundry yet) and my patience at an all-time-low.

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In case you somehow missed it – you know, you decided to move to Peru and swear off all social media for the past few weeks – here’s what I’m talking about in a nutshell: a video surfaced last week of Ray Rice, former NFL player for the Baltimore Ravens, savagely punching his then-fiance Janay Rice in an elevator, knocking her unconscious. (Let’s not even get started on the fact that the video shouldn’t have ever even been released.)

While this originally happened in spring of 2014, Ray Rice’s first punishment didn’t incur until May, and it was simply a two game suspension. The release of this video caused an instant (and deservedly so) public uproar, forcing the NFL to incur an actual punishment, resulting in his being dropped from the Ravens, and then suspended from the NFL, indefinitely.

This had many in an understandable frustration: while it was (semi) comforting to know that Rice finally got what he deserved, it was upsetting to know that the only reason it happened was because everyone had seen the terrible video. It was obvious that the inaction and victim blaming of NFL Commissioner, Roger Goodell, was a sign of a disease that infected the NFL long ago – and that needed to be removed immediately. #GoodellMustGo

As someone who is extremely invested in sports, the recent Ray Rice (and Adrian Peterson – he was only temporarily suspended after being found to have beaten his son) incident have extremely disappointed me. They have forced me to take a second, hard look at the professional sports industries, specifically football… and I hate what I see.

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Where before I saw the power of teamwork, now I see lies and deception in order to keep a team winning.

Where before I saw incredible examples of hard work, now I see graphic videos of domestic abuse.

Where before I saw fans and teammates and sports lovers all coming together, now I see victim blaming, the pitting of women against women, and inexcusable jokes being made.

Where before I saw integrity in a game determined by the power of teamwork, incredible hard work, and the passion of fans and teammates, now I see a society so willing to win that they hide their eyes to child abuse, domestic violence, and downright corruption.

In this year of 2014, the actions – or rather, the failure to act – of the NFL have been downright appalling. The fact that video footage was needed in order for justice to occur is not only terribly wrong, but just plain sad.

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Samantha Escobar, from The Gloss, explains it well here:

“One of the most fascinating things about some people’s responses to domestic violence is that they tend to want proof. Your word is not quite enough for them to believe you; they need to see the bruises, hear it from the abuser him- (or her-) self, watch the video footage of a human being knocking another human being unconscious. This is strange considering when you discuss most crimes–including physical assault by strangers or non-loved ones–you don’t need much proof. If a friend tells you he has been mugged, would you need to see surveillance footage to believe him? Probably not. If your sister says she had her car stolen, does everybody start asking her if she left the car unlocked and, hey, what did she do that could have provoked a criminal to steal her car? With domestic violence–as well as sexual assault–people have a tendency to question everything about the crime, including your integrity despite it being something inflicted on your without your consent.”

The silver lining of this? You. When you decide to tweet, instagram, facebook, write letters, call, and share your disgust of the depressing and embarrassing actions of the NFL, you are helping give those who are victims of domestic abuse and child abuse a stronger voice. You are forcing the NFL to come clean, one act at a time, and hopefully, spur action for future cases of violence.

Join the conversation on Twitter with the hashtags #GoodellMustGo, #WhyIStayed, or #WhyILeft, either to share your voice on why Roger Goodell needs to be removed as soon as possible, to share your own story about domestic abuse, or to support those women who currently struggle with or have struggled in the past with domestic abuse.

Even better, tweet at me, @jujubeekennedy, and I would love to chat with you about this. Let’s get rid of the stigma surrounding domestic abuse and bring more awareness to the issue. Better yet, force the NFL to come face to face with their worst enemy: a strong woman.

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Julia Jean Kennedy

Julia Jean Kennedy

Preferring basketball over barbies, travel over tutus, and almost any chatter that could somehow relate back to Harry Potter, Julia is always game for a beer and an impromptu booking of a ticket to a game, country, or even the latest Fast and Furious movie. Here, find random thoughts, tidbits about trips, and occasionally Seattle Seahawks propaganda.

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