Thursday, September 25, 2014

On Domestic Abuse, Adrian Peterson, and Ray Rice

Last week, I was onLocal 4 Live in the D, and one of the topics was corporal punishment since Adrian Peterson has been in the news defending his child abuse allegations as corporal punishment.

When asked what I think about corporal punishment, I said that I do not agree with it; violence equals power.

As a mom, corporal punishment has never been an option for me.  I made a conscious decision to never use physical force to “teach” my child .  And I say “teach” becauseI think hitting only teaches kids to be afraid, and I do not want to use fear as a motivator.  Living in fear kind of does something detrimental to the human spirit, especially when the abuse happens with the very people who are supposed to protect you.  Self-esteem starts to chip away when you deal with issues of submission and trust.

Or the victims become the aggressors and the cycle continues.

The rebels who are able to find a thread of self-worth and build on it enough to exit the cycle are the lucky ones, but anyone who advocates for change has her own unique set of struggles.

My kids have pushed me to the edge of my frustration, but the dissonance of telling Nathan not to hit his sister as I am spanking him makes no sense.  I’m pretty sure that kind of mixed message will end up in thousands of dollars worth of therapy.

In the end, if I want to raise independent thinkers who practice impulse control and kindness, I have to set the example.  I am the adult. 

Rice and Peterson might have different views on domestic violence than I do, but then again, I am not part of NFL’s culture of infallible athletes.  I think when you have a culture that celebrates your abilities without making you accountable, very bad things can happen.  Obviously.

But it doesn’t just start when these men play professional ball.  I can remember in high school how some teachers tailored their tests so athletes could pass and play ball.

When I went to U of M Ann Arbor for my freshman year, young women doted on the football players.  I clearly remember these young women ironing the football players’ clothes while they played video games on their big screen TVs in their ginormous dorm rooms (which was kind of weird because I don’t ever being shown this deluxe dorm room on my student tour).

When I taught junior high, I remember athletes given preferential treatment and the unspoken pressure to make sure athletes had good enough grades to play.

So from a very early age, these athletes have an acute sense that the rules do not apply to them. 

These athletes have a golden ticket to a free (or deeply discounted) education.  They are given a chance to learn a new way of life, yet some still the buy into their infallibility

In a way, I guess these men are still victims.  I think the NFL exploits these men for what they bringing – money and lots of it – and do not care about making sure they are well-rounded, healthy individuals.  I mean, the NFL let them play even though they knew about the abuse . . .until social media made so much noise and Budweiser and other sponsors decided to publicly declare that the NFL needs to get a handle on this situation. 

Please do not misinterpret that I do not hold Rice and Peterson accountable for their actions; I most certainly do. It angers me to my core that someone thinks they are entitled to violate another human being, especially repeat offenders likePeterson

This system is broken, and the people who let this happen, like the NFL, are just as guilty for looking the other way.

Originally, I felt hopeless by reading all the media surrounding these cases, wondering if it could ever change. I mean, the NFL money is HUGE.

But then I would see hashtags pop up like #WhyIStayed and women talking about the deep, specific details of domestic abuse, things that were not often discussed publicly.  And I felt a glimmer of hope that maybe through these conversations, real change has a chance of happening.

What do you think about Rice, Peterson, and domestic abuse?  What do you think the role of the NFL should be?

Erin Janda Rawlings Mommy on the Spot On Domestic Abuse, Adrian Peterson, and Ray Rice


Nora said...

Excellent post! I'm so very much in agreement with you on corporal punishment. It is indeed a teaching method, after all, and what it teaches is fear, resentment, anger - and it teaches by example, as you said, that it's okay to hit another person, when you're the one in charge.

Erin Janda Rawlings said...

Thank you so much, Nora! I appreciate your support. I was nervous to write about this since there a lot of people out there that feel differently.