Over the past few years, the nations attention has been drawn to the increased reporting of incidents of domestic violence against NFL players. While it is unclear whether or not there has been a spike in the actual rates of domestic violence or just the media coverage, the idolization of American football players has made this a hot button issue for fans and parents alike.
This issue first began to receive serious media coverage when TMZ released a video of then Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice assaulting his fiancée in a hotel elevator in Atlantic City. The video shows Rice hitting his fiancée several times. She is ultimately knocked unconscious after her head hits the railing and Rice can be seen dragging her body from the elevator.
Rice was originally arrested and let out on bond. He was initially given a two game suspension by the NFL, a decision that sparked outrage among victims advocates. Ultimately, the Ravens decided to terminate Rices contract and he has not been re-signed since. Additionally, Rice faced charges of third degree aggravated assault that were ultimately dropped.
Domestic violence is abusive behavior, either physically or verbally, that one partner uses to gain control over another partner. In most jurisdictions, the victim must be a family member or intimate partner in order for the crime to be characterized as domestic violence. This is important because domestic violence generally carries harsher punishments then regular assault and battery. The rationale is that domestic abuse is more dangerous because the victim is unlikely to report domestic violence to authorities and strong patterns are frequently established. Since domestic violence usually occurs within the parameters of ones home, it frequently goes unnoticed.
While the connection between domestic violence and the football players is still tenuous, many theorize that NFL players desensitization to violence on the field makes them more aggressive when interacting with loved ones at home. Additionally, some studies show that NFL players have inflated egos as a result of the attention and money that they receive. This suggests that NFL players are more likely feel superior to their intimate partners. Finally, many NFL players were victims of domestic abuse when they were children. Studies have consistently shown that victims of domestic violence have a higher probability of becoming perpetrators of that same violence. While NFL players and athletes receive the most attention for perpetrating domestic violence, the issue is pervasive amongst non-athletes as well.