Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Domestic Violence, Child Abuse and Corporate America

* For assistance with domestic violence, please refer to the information provided at the end of this article.

The National Football League has been under intense scrutiny in the past couple weeks for the way it has handled the discipline (or lack thereof) of a few players who have either been charged with or convicted of domestic violence, child abuse and drug crimes. Domestic violence and child abuse is as much a problem today as it was yesterday, as it was last year, or as it was 10 years ago. The only difference is that the media is finally reporting on it differently. This is actually a good thing. Finally, abuse is being forced into your living room to see it on video or in pictures in a context that millions of people actually care about and spend billions of dollars on…football. Should it be that way? Of course not. But that is the way it is.

It has taken football, a few football players and a few executives to raise awareness, national awareness (if not global), that we have a serious problem in our society.  They have shown us first hand what domestic violence looks like and what the wounds look like.  They have also shown us how society in general has been dealing with it.  The NFL is a reflection of our society in this context.  We tend to ignore it or keep it secret or we just don’t talk about it. But these things happen every day. The criminal court system is flooded with defendants accused of domestic violence and child abuse. The juvenile court system is flooded with cases against parents who lose their children because they abuse their kids. This has been happening for decades.

I applaud the corporate sponsors who have abandoned the athletes who abuse women and children. I applaud the sponsors who have abandoned and who are holding the NFL accountable for its handling of the situation. Anheuser-Busch is one of those companies. Anheuser-Busch gives $200 MILLION to the NFL each year for advertisements (plus $149 million between 2009-2013 just for the Super Bowl) and, in a rare and surprising move, came out publicly criticizing the NFL’s handling of the recent abuse cases and demanding that the NFL set a better standard or else. That’s right! A beer company is setting the moral standard. Only in America. But good for them! Enough is enough.

Radison, Pepsico, Visa, McDonald's, Nike, and Campbell's Soup have also come out publicly to criticize the NFL and to threaten loss of their sponsorship if the NFL doesn’t get its act together. I applaud each of them. Don’t be fooled. These companies stand to lose a lot of money if their product is tainted by their #1 advertiser but their public stance can only help fight the problem regardless of their ultimate motivation.

Let’s make something clear. These sponsors are the only reason the NFL exists today and, quite frankly, these sponsors will suffer greatly if the NFL suffers. But without these sponsors, Roger Goodell doesn’t get his 9-figure contract. Stadiums fail. Teams can no longer afford to make these owners and athletes some of the richest people in our country. And these sponsors lose millions in revenue when the NFL suffers.

It is sad that it takes the threat of losing money to motivate people to publicly take the right stance against a man punching a woman in the face. Regardless, I am grateful that SOMETHING is motivating them.  You would think that the actual act of a man punching a woman in the face would be enough for an entity like the NFL to publicly take the right stance against such violence but that wasn’t the case.

Domestic violence and child abuse saturate our society with issues and burdens and problems that last lifetimes, span multiple generations and affect areas of our lives that we don’t even think about. Acts of violence against women and children leave scars that don’t heal. It doesn’t stop at the physical pain. It doesn’t stop at the emotional and psychological suffering. Entire families are destroyed. Future generations “inherit” the behavior. Unwarranted fear and shame burden the victims in ways you cannot imagine. Healthcare costs, insurance costs, years of psychological issues and counseling, drug and alcohol addiction, poor educational performance, criminal behavior, legal fees, court costs, and the list goes on and on. Everything is affected by acts of violence against other human beings.

Will football or corporations put an end to domestic violence or child abuse? Absolutely not. Are they responsible for it happening? If you believe that, you live in a fantasy world. But they can and should try to make a difference. In corporate America, they have great influence over us, the consumer. They have the power to spread information and awareness to hundreds of millions of people and they have a moral duty to do so.

Indifference promotes more violence. Intolerance changes attitudes. Even if only one person is changed from all of this publicity, at least that is one person who won’t abuse another human being.  That is how change starts.

Is our society capable of confronting itself, understanding the problem, admitting their fault in that problem and ending the violence against others? After we take away all the money and the sponsorships, fire the top executives, all the media attention ends and we get back to football, what is left? When no one is watching, will any of this have made someone stop and think before they punch a woman or hurt a child?

If not, we all have failed.
If you or someone you know are a victim of domestic violence, ask for help. Here are some agencies where you can go or call for help. It is confidential. End it now!

Domestic Violence Coalition of Greater Chattanooga
(423) 875-0120
One Cherokee Boulevard
First Tennessee Bank Building
Chattanooga, Tennessee 37405

Main Office Phone: (423) 755-2822
Crisis Hotline Phone: (423) 755-2700 confidential line answered 24/7
Main Office Location: 1800 McCallie Avenue / Chattanooga, TN 37404

Domestic Violence Hot Line
300 E 8th St Chattanooga, TN 37403
(423) 755-2700

Neal Pinkston, District Attorney General (423) 209-7400

Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office (423) 622-0022

Family & Children’s Services (423) 755-2840

Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault Hotline (423) 755-2700

Domestic Violence Coalition (423) 875-0120

Circuit Court (Orders of Protection) (423) 209-6700


The information you obtain from this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation. I invite you to contact me and welcome your calls, letters and electronic mail. Contacting me does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please do not send any confidential information to me until such time as an attorney-client relationship has been established.
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