The Denver Broncos and the Carolina Panthers kick off Super Bowl 50 this afternoon in the culmination of the NFL season. But some of the biggest NFL-related headlines continue to come off the field, particularly with regard to the issue of domestic violence.
Just this week, Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel was in the headlines for yet another alleged domestic violence assault, and a protection order has been filed to keep him away from his girlfriend for two years.
While the cases involving star players attract attention, the truth of the matter is that, by and large, domestic violence is an issue we usually don’t want to talk about. Nationwide statistics on domestic violence are appalling. At least 1 in 3 women have experienced physical violence from an intimate partner according to data from the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
On the Kenai Peninsula, the numbers are even higher: at least 52 percent of women living on the Kenai Peninsula have or will experience domestic violence, according to the 2013 Alaska Victimization Study conducted by the University of Alaska Anchorage Justice Center and the state Council on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault.
While the focus is frequently on women, men also can be victims of domestic violence. According to the 2010 National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, more than 1 in 4 men in the United States have experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime.
Local law enforcement officials say that in any given week, multiple arrests for domestic violence are not out of the ordinary. While they may make up a small percentage of calls for service, state troopers say domestic violence cases involving serious injury can account for 30 to 40 percent of their workload.
Those watching the big game on Sunday will no doubt be reminded of the issue, as No More will continue with their ad campaign during the big game.
But it’s important to remember, whether you’re watching the game or not, that the numbers we’re talking about represent real people. It can be hard to connect a celebrity on the TV screen — no matter how sobering the delivery of the message — with things going on in households in our community.
For its part, the NFL’s tolerance for domestic violence is greatly reduced, likely influenced by the number of high-profile incidents in recent years. The Browns have indicated that Manziel will not be part of the organization going forward, and even Manziel’s agent has cut ties with the player.
Locally, programs, such as the LeeShore Center’s Green Dot campaign, that operate under the premise that anyone has the ability to prevent a potentially violent situation, either by calling the police or speaking up, invite the community to become part of the solution.
So enjoy the game. But we hope the message “no more” resonates with you beyond Sunday’s festivities, because it’s a message we all need to hear.