Super Brawl?
February 8th, 2010

As I’m sure you’re aware, yesterday was Super Bowl Sunday.  Perhaps you, like I, went to a Super Bowl party wherein you watched the commercials the game, snacked unabashedly daintily, and generally had a good time.  For most of America that is about how the evening transpired.

Now, in the interest of integrity, this post was supposed to be something entirely different.  I had intended to write a thoughtful post about the sordid underbelly of the Super Bowl; an underbelly of domestic violence.  I was going to write about the “fact” of increased domestic violence on Super Bowl Sunday. 

It is a “fact” that is well-known to many of us.  It was widely reported in the media a few years back and has been handed down since then via a dedicated grass-roots effort.  And it is a “fact” that we all easily acknowledged because it so effortlessly blends with our perception of angry and drunken football fans. 

But here’s the thing about this “fact.”  I looked it up and… It is not at all true.  (See? My quotes weren’t just errant over-punctuation.)   
 
It certainly rings true.  We think of oafish drunks growing hostile over their team’s loss and smacking their wives or girlfriends around and we can envision it perfectly.  But they don’t.  Well, some of them probably do.  But on Super Bowl Sunday and the following Monday domestic violence support and call centers don’t report any higher victim volumes than any other day. 
 
And so I was disappointed. 
 
WHAT?  Disappointed?  Disappointed that a perceived escalation in domestic abuse is nothing more than urban legend?  And all because it foiled my plans for a POST? 
 
GALE!!  GET OVER YOURSELF!!
 
Once I got to thinking about it I realized that the reason for my disappointment was not really about “normal” levels of domestic abuse, but on the lost opportunity to shed a wee amount of light on a critical problem in our society.

But my little blog is still here.  And this problem still exists.  And just because Super Bowl Sunday can’t serve as a convenient entrée into this topic doesn’t mean I shouldn’t still raise it.  So here I go. 

So what is true about domestic violence?  Here are a few statistics:

  • One in four women will experience domestic violence in her life.
  • Boys who witness domestic violence are twice as likely to abuse their own partners and children when they become adults.
  • Only approximately one-quarter of all physical assaults, one-fifth of all rapes, and one-half of all stalkings perpetuated against females by intimate partners are reported to the police.
  • Less than one-fifth of victims reporting an injury from intimate partner violence sought medical treatment following the injury.

I recently stumbled across the blog Violence UnSilenced, which left me, well, silenced.  Stunned.  Quiet.  Shocked into submission.  It is an astounding website.  Founded about a year ago by Maggie, Dammit it is a blog that seeks to shed light within the blogging community on the epidemics of domestic violence and sexual abuse/assault–by giving survivors a voice.  And the voice that it gives them is heart rending and inspiring.  Their stories are brave and raw and powerful and frightening.  I feel soft and coddled and spoiled in the shadows of these women.

But as my husband is inclined to ask me in situations like these, what does that accomplish?  What does it accomplish for me to sit at my desk reading hideous stories of manipulation and abuse and not act?  Big. Fat. Nothing.           

I have chosen to write.  While that alone does not change the life of an abused person, there are other things I can do.  There are things you can do.  We can learn the factsDonate a carDonate a phone.  Donate moneyDonate your time
 
There were many stories told on Sunday.  There was the story of how it was bittersweet for Peyton Manning to go up against his dad’s old team.  There was the story of how this Super Bowl victory is a glimmer of hope for the residents of New Orleans, many of whom are still fighting against the lingering ravages of hurricane Katrina. 
 
But there are stories that won’t be told.  In fact, there are stories that will be hidden.  Stories of black eyes and bruised ribs.  Stories of insults hurled and venom spewed.  Stories of bullying and terrorizing. 

These are the stories that matter more.  Matter most.

4 Responses to “Super Brawl?”

  1. Aidan Donnelley Rowley @ Ivy League Insecurities Says:

    Indeed there are so many stories, told and untold. Beautiful, searching post.

  2. Laura H. Says:

    Another great post Gale; a topic that is very near to my heart and which caused me to apply for law school many years ago.

    I volunteer for Legal Advocates for Abused Women (LAAW), representing women pro bono who are seeking orders of protection against their abusers. LAAW is a not-for-profit domestic violence organization dedicated to helping victims of abuse in times of crisis. Over the 20+ years LAAW has been in existence, they have helped thousands upon thousands of women in the metropolitan St. Louis area.

    LAAW is currently experiencing a financial crisis, and may be faced with closing their doors later this year. If any of your readers would like to consider donating to a worthy organization that is working hard to eradicate domestic violence, I would ask for their consideration of LAAW. You can find more information at: http://www.laawstl.org

  3. Anne Says:

    Good for you for attempting to shed more light on something we so often try to ignore. Very touching, honest post.

  4. Nicki Says:

    Gale – Great job shedding light on a horrible issue. I was extremely annoyed that NOW, after opposing the Tebow ad prior to the Super Bowl on the grounds that it was anti-choice, decided to oppose it after the Super Bowl saying it showed violence towards women. I don’t think they were watching the same ad I was.

    Part of the reason domestic violence perpetrated by a spouse or significant other goes unreported is alienation. Those who are violent do a great job alienating the woman from friends and family. Who do you turn to in those cases? Also, the process is difficult and painful. You have to retell, continually, what happened. You have to put up with DA’s saying we want to plead it down or not prosecute at all.

    Oh, I am sorry to ramble on. You hit a nerve with me here and I just could go on forever.