This is going to be an opinion piece since I am not an expert on this subject and fortunately have no first hand experience with it.
However, I could fill the entire 100 GB hard drive in this laptop with information, statistics, clinical studies and expert opinions on the subject of "domestic violence" (DV), and there would still be more to include. So if this turns out to be a bit lengthy, I hope you will bear with me.
I started to name the article "Losers and the women who love them" but there were some issues with that title.
First, I wouldn't want it to seem as if I am insulting women who have gone through cycles of spousal abuse. I have nothing but commiseration and sympathy for them.
Second, the hard cold fact is that there are many who have been abusers whom we, as a society, might not necessarily consider to be "losers". Check the slideshow.
And third, this article is really about the urban myth surrounding DV and the Superbowl.
It started with a Public Service Announcement (PSA) in 1993, which was run on the NBC television network, broadcasters of the Superbowl that year, just prior to the start of the game. It stated simply "domestic violence is a crime".
It was the hope of the organization Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, (FAIR), along with a coalition of anti-violence and women's support groups, that the announcement being shown before kick-off would deter some of the expected spousal abuse.
It was backed up by articles written by many journalists citing experiences shared by women who had been abused, stories from workers at women's shelters who claim to have seen dramatic rises in activity in their locations during Superbowl weekend, and statistics from law enforcement organizations. All of that information combined with more having been accumulated over the ensuing years would seem to indicate that there is indeed a pattern of increase in DV during the "big game".
Yet most experts on DV disagree, saying that much of the evidence presented is "anecdotal" at best, and find no direct correlation between a rise in DV and the airing of the Superbowl.
What they do agree upon is that the existence of this persistent urban myth, which no-one seems able to prove or disprove decisively, does a great service to the cause of the prevention of DV in that it forces us all to pause and consider the issue more closely.
If only for a moment.
The reasons behind domestic violence are as hard to pinpoint as they are to understand and it is my opinion that despite the belief among doctors that it is more about "power and control" than it is "out of control anger", they are as varied as the people who find themselves caught in the cycle.
Consider this story, just one of many that's being splashed all over the internet about Rihanna and her "reunion" with Chris Brown. She claims that she still "loves" him and that she would rather "live with that truth and take the backlash" then pretend it isn't so. She also said that if he "abuses" her again that she would be "out of there".
Obviously his abuse did not prevent her from leaving, and just as obvious is the fact that his anger was out of control. He struck her, repeatedly. There was no Superbowl that day. Perhaps it is also true that he never really lost his "control" over her since she has in fact gone back to him. It's extremely difficult for someone on the outside to truly understand these events, doctor or not.
My question is, does this make Chris Brown a loser? My assertion. Definitely! If we judge by his fame and fortune, many in this country would say no. But my opinion is that if, as a "man" you feel the need to strike a woman, you have lost your way, you've lost yourself, you've certainly lost the respect of anyone involved and in some cases, you may lose your freedom, deservedly so, because DV is in fact a crime. I think those things would qualify that man as a Loser!
But what about Rihanna? She loses too! She speaks of a possible "backlash", which to her means having to deal with a hostile media, but the real backlash, according to studies cited by the DV organization Safe Horizon, consists of "high rates of depression, sleep disturbances, anxiety, flashbacks, and other emotional distress". So it's not just about the abusers, but their victims too. Hence, "Losers and the women who love them".
DV knows no particular race, religion, ethnicity, education level or financial status and I tend to believe that it needs no excuse. But if it did, the Superbowl could certainly provide a big one!
The internet is full to bursting with stories about tragedies occurring in connection with big sporting events. From horrific accidents to horrifying violence. And there is no sports event bigger in America than the Superbowl.
The atmosphere itself is explosive. The excitement, the crowds and parties, the alcohol, (in my younger years I have been known to refer to it as the "stuporbowl"), and of course the flow of money into the bookies, both legal and illegal.
For someone prone to committing spousal abuse, these things can be the ingredients for a time bomb with a lit fuse. A word, a gesture, a passing look. Any of those could be enough to set it off.
Does domestic violence occur during the weekend/day of the big game? Most assuredly! Is there more of it because of the game. Maybe.
My opinion is that domestic violence happens. During the game. After the game. Today, tomorrow, next week, next month, next year. And until we find an effective way to address the root causes in the men who commit it and the women who suffer it, it will continue to be a serious issue in our society.
And the Superbowl will continue to be right in the middle of it all, rightly or wrongly. Because it's a man's game. And men are by far, the biggest abusers.
Millions of us are looking forward to this weekend, and for millions of us it is going to be just plain fun. But for many, it may turn into an opportunity to participate in some out of bounds activity. And that is a criminal shame.
There are some excellent resources on line where guidance can be found in everything from understanding the cycles of violence to finding shelter for women and children in need of help.
For the people of Charlotte and the state, the North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCCADV) is the place to start.
Across the country, the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) is the resource to use.
As y'all know, as clearly stated in my last piece, I am a 49er fan from way back so I will be rooting for them loud and hard, but, just for a moment, before that first kick of the ball, I plan to pause and consider the plague that is domestic violence, mention it to friends and family, and ask what it is that we might do to help someone for whom the big game may not be as much fun.
May you all have a blessed, safe and fun Superbowl weekend.