“Be [N]ice to Girls”: Domestic Violence Awareness Month

The NFL has been all over headlines since the beginning of September, but not because football season is upon us. No, the country is turning their attention to the league to see how it deals with Ray Rice’s violence against his wife and the assault charges filed against him.

To recap the situation, in early September a video of Baltimore Ravens player, Ray Rice beating his then-fiancé in an elevator went viral.This was not the beginning of the saga; the video was filmed in February and there were already assault charges filed against Rice. However, the situation has only escalated since.

1410272956000-Ray Rice Terminated.jpg

The NFL is taking some proactive action against the former running back. He was terminated from the Ravens and is currently on indefinite suspension from the leage. Fans even have the opportunity to exchange Ray Rice jerseys for those of other Ravens players. It took the NFL long enough – there have been talks of disciplinary action since February, but it seems that they were constantly trying to defend Rice until this video was leaked, making it impossible to run from the evidence. The league has instated a new domestic violence policy, but it seems like a “too little, too late” move in my eyes. I suppose it’s a step, but more action needs to be taken to prevent similar situations from happening in the future.

When celebrities are involved, the world is drawn into the conversation about domestic violence. It’s great that this problem is becoming part of our national conversation and it’s great to see that people are demanding Ray Rice receive the punishment his actions deserve. However, it’s problematic that we’re only talking about one instance. There are millions of domestic violence victims in this country who seem to be swept under the rug. Well, October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, giving us the perfect opportunity to bring the problem to the forefront of national conversation.

I’ve long considered myself someone who is very aware of the seriousness and prevalence of domestic violence in our society – or so I thought. A look at the statistics from the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence was quite a shock to me and showed I may not have known as much as I thought. Here’s a look at some of the most jarring numbers:

  • 20 people are domestically abused every minute – this equates to more than 10 million men and women every single year
  • 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men will be abused in their lifetime, while 1 in 5 women and 1 in 7 men report severe physical abuse.
  • 1 in 7 women and 1 in 18 men have reported being the target of a stalker. In these situations, they felt that they or someone close to them could be killed.
  • Violence between intimate partners accounts for 15% of violent crime in this country

So now you’ve seen just how many people, both men and women, are victims of domestic violence. This begs the question, what are some of long-term effects of being victim to this kind of crime? Aside from the obvious concern of safety and health, domestic violence can have so many other impacts. Did you know that victims of intimate partner violence lost around a combined total of 8 million paid workdays every year? How about that domestic violence is the third leading cause of homelessness in the US? That victims of domestic violence are often socially isolated and have fewer social and financial resources than thosewho are not abused? I, for one, did not connect the dots. I’ve only ever thought about domestic violence in terms of how horrible it is that people are hurt, though the effects go so much deeper than that.

The numbers above focus on those who are direct victims of abuse, but Safe Horizon reports the impacts on children. Every year, more than 3 million children will witness domestic violence in their homes. While the lasting emotional and psychological effects of this are detrimental enough, children are also likely to intervene when they witness violence against a parent. It puts them at great risk of injury. Lastly, the girls caught in the middle of violent homes are more likely to be abused once they are older, while boys are more likely to become abusers.

Pretty scary stuff we’re up against, huh? What’s worse, this only scratches the surface of the information out there. Every source I looked at while researching this post seemed to expose more and more disturbing facts that drive home just how often domestic violence occurs and how awful the consequences can be.

Since I don’t want to be the downer who ends a post with such sad statistics, something positive has come out of Ray Rice’s actions. One father decided to turn his little girl’s Ray Rice jersey into something more positive, turning it into what he calls a “teaching moment”. He cleverly changed Rice’s name into the word, “nice” and added a few other touches. Rice’s jersey now reads, “Be Nice To Girls”. Bryan Bartlett says that he wanted to tell his daughter that it’s never ok for a man to hit you in any situation.


“I was just hopefully teaching my daughter that we expect that guys always are nice to you and treat you with respect and that you don’t put up with anybody being mean or hitting you or anything like that ever.”

The photo went viral and other parents have altered their children’s jerseys as well, on both boys and girls. A clever way to turn the situation on its head and provide a valuable message to children if you ask me!

Do you want to make a difference in the fight against domestic violence? Check out the links below to discover volunteer opportunities and other ways to help.

Alexandra House, located in Blaine MN

Aurora Center at the University of Minnestoa

Sojourner Project located in Hopkins, MN

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