Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault in Sports
I spoke with a lot of smart people when I started putting these together. Hope you can spare a few minutes to read-up!
Permanent link to this article: http://advocacyforfairnessinsports.org/domestic-violence/
“This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill – the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill – you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes.”
In Part I of this series, I took a look at domestic violence in the sporting world extending into society, and in Part II took a dive into the complexities of dealing with sexual assault. In viewing these problems, which not only affect the sports leagues, but our culture as a whole, the issues may appear so vast and complex as to present a “no win scenario.”
For the answer to this dilemma, perhaps we should borrow a play from Star Trek, the long-running sci-fi series. As the story goes, cadets were placed in a “no win scenario” simulation in which they were faced with making one of two choices, both of which seemed to point to disaster. The simulation was designed to test the moral fortitude of the cadets regarding how they faced the situation; that is, until one cadet, a James T. Kirk found a way to win. When his astounded professors asked how he did it, he replied, “I changed the scenario.”
A woman, known to most by the pseudonym Jane Doe has accused pro basketball superstar Derrick Rose of gang rape in a civil lawsuit. At the beginning of the suit, TMZ launched some sensational headlines that portrayed Doe as an evil gold-digger. Then the case seemed to fade away for a while until the scorched earth tactics of both parties’ lawyers caught the attention of a number of sports law experts whose coverage seemed to propel the case back into the media spotlight as the trial date approached. Doe and her attorneys spent two days with the press in an attempt to present Doe’s side of the story which prompted Rose’s counsel to successfully petition the judge for a gag order…One of the situations that could go against Doe is the fact that she did not report the rape to police nor did she pursue civil action until nearly two years after the alleged assault. While this seems plausible, her reasons for not doing so to me are at least equally gripping; especially the statement that she didn’t want her family to find out. To some, this may seem insignificant, but not to me. I literally burst into tears when I read it because it was a prime concern to me when I was raped over thirty years ago. Until now, this has been my most carefully guarded secret. My mother went to her grave not knowing and unless, in the unlikely event my father happens across this article, the same will probably be said for him.
Déjà vu? Nearly each week, a new headline surfaces alleging that an athlete has committed an act of domestic violence or sexual assault. Recent infractions in the NFL such as those involving Ray Rice, Greg Hardy, Johnny Manziel and Josh Brown, have placed domestic violence in the glaring spotlight repeatedly, along with questionable practices on the part of the league regarding subsequent investigations and punishment.
I recently had the opportunity to speak at length with Dr. Mitch Abrams, regarding the problems of domestic violence and sexual assault in sports…..Dr. Abrams has consulted with thousands of athletes over the past 22 years and has developed programs for athletic organizations at all levels – youth through professional. He is the Founder and President of Learned Excellence for Athletes – his sport psychology consulting company is located in New Jersey. As a forensic psychologist, he is also an expert in risk assessment, an area which is highly under-utilized, but necessary, if we are to stem acts of aggression in athletics, and even as a society……Dr. Abrams offered many insights in this regard that space didn’t permit in the original series, so in light of yet another violent case in the news, the Joe Mixon, assault, I spoke with him again and wanted to share his thoughts in this regard along with excerpts of the original interview in order that we might have a better understanding of factors that contribute to the problem and what can be done.
Rape, or sexual assault is a crime that invokes nearly unilateral outrage in society, but it is one of the most misunderstood and difficult offenses to successfully prosecute. Using forced vaginal, oral, or anal intercourse as a definition of rape, it is estimated to affect one out of every five to six American women.
At some point, as Title IX lawsuits are accumulating at Baylor University, the public becomes aware, and shock and horror prevail. The most recent filing alleged 52 rapes in a four year period from 2011 to 2014. Asserting a “show ‘em a good time” approach to football recruiting, Kendal Briles, former Head Coach Art Briles’ son and now the offensive coordinator at Florida Atlantic University was reported in the suit to have asked a student athlete, “Do you like white women? Because we have a lot of them at Baylor and they love football players.” Though not yet corroborated, the allegations are so numerous, that they reach incredulous proportions.