Last week police pictures of Greg Hardy’s former girlfriend surfaced on the internet and suddenly there was outrage. I wondered to myself why the outrage now? This story happened over a year ago with detailed information about what Hardy did to his former girlfriend. Police reports indicate Hardy threw her into the bathroom wall, stuck her head in the toilet and threw her on a futon full of automatic weapons. These are only some of the incidents in a list of others that led to her looking like she had just finished playing an NFL game. There was talk then about what Greg Hardy did and it was met with the usual disdain by women’s rights group, a statement from the NFL (including suspension) and various comments on sports talk shows. Only when the pictures surface did the moral indignity by all has been blazoned across television and social media sites. Again, why this much outrage now?
Hardy was suspended for 1 year from the NFL and then was signed by Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones. Jones, has backed his former player and went so far as to call him a leader. He did this with the knowledge that he has a leader in Jason Witten. For those of you who may not know Witten, he has been the Dallas Cowboys tight end for the past 12 years. What many people did not know about Witten until recently is he has devoted his off the field life to a foundation called the SCORE Foundation. This foundation places positive male role models in domestic violence shelters “to demonstrate positive male behavior to the children living in these shelters in an effort to break the cycle of violence that plagues families affected by abuse.” The main reason for starting this foundation; he experienced domestic violence first hand by his father.
I have been rather surprised by the amount of outrage since these pictures. Many may find that comment strange. I find the outrage now strange. Why? I will ask everyone this question, “What did everyone think they would see?” Greg Hardy is 6’4″ tall and weighs 278 pounds. His former girlfriend is listed as 5’10” tall and 110 pounds. Rhonda Rousey would have her hands full with someone this size. Oddly enough one of the best comment I have read regarding this issue comes from a very unsuspecting source, Ray Rice. You may remember Ray Rice as the NFL player that was suspended from football because of a domestic violence video surfacing where he is seen punching his wife. Rice commented about the Hardy photos, “It really shouldn’t take photos or anything to understand the severity of domestic violence.” Interesting words from someone who the whole word saw knock out, his then fiance, in a hotel elevator. I am not making any commentary on Rice’s sincerity or character, what I do agree with are his words.
So now I have a question that goes right to the heart of this issue and here it is, “Why do we not believe the victims of domestic violence when they speak up?” Do we really need pictures to be outraged? We have almost daily evidence when we read or watch the news where some victim of domestic violence is beaten or killed at the hands of their perpetrator. As Rice quoted, “It happens every 8 seconds.” I have spent the last 30 years in the counseling field and I have encountered hundreds of victims of domestic violence. Many of them do not have a bruise or scratch on them at the time when I meet with them, but I can tell you one thing for sure, it doesn’t make it any less serious. Victims of domestic violence are at risk for injury or death. Pictures may be worth a thousand words but there is only one word that is needed with domestic violence and that is the word HELP!