A word from the Executive Director:
It seems as though every time you turn on a television you hear about abuse, violence, and crimes being committed.
Whether it is Adrian Peterson and his physical punishment of a four year old child or Ray Rice knocking out his fiancé in an elevator, domestic violence and child abuse are certainly not limited to the professional game of football. It is clear there are some unsettling trends and statistics coming out of this media attention.
To the casual observer it seems like there has been a sudden burst of abusive and assaultive behaviors. Those who have worked tirelessly in the battered women’s and domestic violence movement for the past three decades don’t find this surprising at all – in fact, it has been predictable.
Peterson and Rice are two of millions of child and spouse abusers who love their families and can learn from their mistakes if provided with healthy information and support early enough. The average child abuser or spouse abuser isn’t dirty, disheveled, reeking of alcohol or on drugs. Child and spouse abusers are corporate CEOs, actors, business owners, teachers, truck drivers, physicians, nurses, basketball heroes, journalists, computer programmers, and your next-door neighbors.
They are dads and moms who have a hard time controlling their emotions when they’re under stress because all too often, they themselves were abused. Nobody helped them when they were young and impressionable kids and nobody is helping them as adults.
Plain and simple, childhood trauma is the nation’s largest public health problem. The CDC’s Adverse Childhood Experiences Study (ACE Study) shows that childhood trauma is very, very common. (ACE surveys in 22 states echo the results.) And this childhood adversity causes violence, including family violence, as well as the adult onset of chronic disease and mental illness.
By learning about the science of childhood adversity and following the lead of many other health-related organizations that are becoming more trauma-Informed, organizations like the NFL could learn how to offer the right kind of support and resources to help their players and their families lead healthier, safer lives.
If there is a bright spot in all these news stories and the heightened awareness, it has to be in the fact that the issue is finally being “named” and it has started a national conversation that has been needed for decades. Let’s hope the national conversation continues!