Well, it looks like this is my week for giving opinions.
I treated everyone to mine a couple of days ago, in regards the proposed Dark Tower movie. And that was fun. Speculation always is always fun. Casting threads are too. And I can never have enough conversation about Stephen King and his magnum opus.
But life isn’t always fun. And I think we all know that. Sometimes, you need to cast aside the fun and be serious, at least for a minute.
Like this post today.
There will be no casting threads. No speculation. And I don’t even think this post will be especially nerdy.
So you have been warned. Feel free to skip over to any of the other posts, if they are more likely to suit your fancy. For today’s post will have a bit different of a flavor, and may not be to everyone’s taste.
Yesterday, it was announced that former Carolina Panthers‘ defensive end (who now plays for the Dallas Cowboys) Greg Hardy will be suspended for 10 games during the 2015 NFL season for his role in a domestic dispute that allegedly turned violent. Hardy was accused of assaulting the woman and threatening to kill her. The criminal charges against Hardy were dropped and the case was settled in a civil court. The NFL determined that Hardy was guilty of violating its personal conduct policy, and doled out what Commissioner Roger Goodell determined to be an appropriate punishment. In this case, it was suspension without pay from 10 regular season games.
There is also the more notorious case of Ray Rice, former player for the Baltimore Ravens. Ray Rice and his now wife Janay Rice were the subjects of the famous video footage that was leaked last year, where Rice could be seen beating his then fiancee unconscious in a hotel elevator, and then dragging her body across the hotel hallway. Rice was originally suspended for only two games, but the release of the video and the ensuing public outcry changed that punishment to indefinite suspension, and Rice was also released by his team, the Baltimore Ravens.
But once again, the aforementioned trolls have come out of hiding. But really, is that too surprising?
Well, trolls, you know what you need to do?
That’s right…SHUT THE FUCK UP!
And I would tell you where you can stick that opinion. Let me give you a hint: sunlight does not make its way there. Enough said.
Greg Hardy strangled his girlfriend. That’s right: strangled. Have you ever been strangled before?
Well, I have. I am a survivor of domestic violence. I was married for nearly seven years to someone who abused me, both emotionally and physically.
For seven years, I lived in terror. I walked on eggshells constantly, never knowing what may set him off.
And no, my ex did not come with a sign saying “I beat up women for fun.” My ex came across as a nice guy, but as someone who had a hard time in life, and just needed some understanding. I would provide him that understanding, and be able to fix him.
But boy was I ever wrong. My ex was not the man I thought he was. Scratch that, I know men (my father, husband, brother and various male friends. Even my two neutered male dogs). My ex is not in that category. He may rank a little above a cockroach (I hate those fuckers) but my two neutered male dogs know way more about manhood than my ex ever will.
So I lived with the abuse, hoping it would go away. And really, I was just afraid for seven years. But like a blind person who does not know he/she is blind because he/she has always been blind, I never knew I was afraid. I accepted it, just a the blind person accepts his/her lack of sight, because there is no other choice.
And I accepted a lot.
I accepted being strangled to the point where I had to fight for air, and where my lungs just wouldn’t function.
I accepted my hair being pulled so hard that my scalp bled.
I accepted the black eyes and the bruises. I accepted having to lie about those on a regular basis, even though I really don’t think anyone else I knew accepted those lies.
I accepted being beaten in a hotel room, where I was pinned in a corner and used as a human punching bag. And I accepted the cuts, scratches and bruises on my face and other parts of my body. After all, if I had not aggravated him, I would not have been put in that position.
And I accepted being a shell of my former self. Even when you don’t know you are afraid, the fear will still whittle you down to almost nothing, until you look in the mirror, and are unable to recognize that husk staring back at you.
Luckily, I am a survivor. It has been nearly eight years. I am married to a wonderful man and I would not trade our relationship for the world, even though we have had our ups and downs. My life is (usually) pretty awesome, if I do say so myself.
But my ex (unlike Greg Hardy and Ray Rice) never faced any consequences for his actions. No jail time. No monetary punishment of any kind. His parents never even held him accountable, and chose to blame almost anything and everything else on his behavior, including me. So he was able to just walk away. Nothing happened to him.
However, I was not able to just walk away. If only.
There were the trust issues. My poor husband. I really am married to a saint. What I put him through, because it took me so long to be able to trust him completely and actually feel safe. When you know nothing but fear and the fear disappears, you have no idea of what to do with yourself. So you will try to re-create that fear, in order to bring back what you know.
And the nightmares. Oftentimes, victims of domestic abuse also suffer from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Nightmares are a part of that. I know that I got out, and luckily got out alive. But sometimes, after I fall asleep, I forget that fact. And I would take dreams about an evil clown over dreams of living with my ex any day.
And the humiliation. One of the worst parts. How much time do I spend beating myself for making the mistake that I did? And how long did I hide this part of my past from nearly everyone that I knew, fearing judgement? I heard some awful things said about Janay Rice for staying: that she was a gold digger, why couldn’t she just leave, etc. But its not that easy. The Twitter conversations #whyIstayed and #whyIleft shed a little light on this subject, but those who have not experienced what myself, Janay Rice and countless other women have experienced simply fail to understand that it really is not that easy. I can’t speak for Janay Rice, but I did at one point love my ex husband, and wanted to try to save my marriage. And I was also afraid, and had every right to be afraid, as women are more likely to be killed by their partners when they attempt to leave, not when they stay in that hell.
So listen up, trolls. Mike Golic is right. This punishment for Greg Hardy is fitting. This punishment is completely appropriate. This punishment is not about Roger Goodell being on a power trip.
This punishment is actually about the NFL doing what is right. Our judicial system does NOT do what is right when it comes to cases of domestic violence. Otherwise, far fewer women would be killed by their partners, as the system would not allow abusers to walk away so easily. And restraining orders would actually be more than a piece of paper that abusers could walk right through.
Greg Hardy (and Ray Rice) have made millions. Both will likely continue to make millions, as they play a sport that rewards handsomely, and often turns a blind eye to people’s pasts. They will likely not have to worry about food, shelter and other basic (and not so basic) necessities for the rest of their lives.
But myself and other survivors of domestic abuse will likely not have it so easy. And I know I am lucky. I have a great support system of family and friends. I have a job and a way to support myself. And I am resilient. I have been resilient all my life. I am able to bounce back, even though it hasn’t been easy. But I will still be living with the effects of the abuse. They may now be scars instead of open wounds, but scar tissue is still sensitive if its touched just right. And its not easy knowing that ex (and other abusers) will never face any kind of consequences, as we live in a society that has so little regard for survivors of physical, sexual and emotional abuse. Perhaps this will change some day, but change is never fast, and often comes too late.
So trolls, stop being a Greg Hardy apologist. He has been suspended for 10 games. Big deal. He will never be living in fear. He will never face judgement for being a victim. Greg Hardy will not have to live with the effects of domestic violence for the rest of his life, like I will.
So, if we have to punish someone like Greg Hardy by suspending him for 10 regular season NFL games, and hitting his pocketbook a little bit, then so be it. The damage done to his pocketbook is far less than damage he caused to his ex girlfriend, as she will likely be dealing with its after-effects for a long, long time. The damage done to Greg Hardy’s pocketbook is not nearly enough punishment, but if that punishment can bring some kind of solace to his victim, myself and anyone else who has suffered at the hands of someone like Greg Hardy, then that punishment needs to stand. Sometimes in life, we are stuck taking the consolation prize. And the consolation prize is almost always better than nothing.