Nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States. During one year, this equates to more than 10 million women and men, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV). October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month for the purpose of encouraging survivors to come forward to seek help and protection.
What is also alarming about this statistic is that many people suffer in silence due to fear. Survivors not only fear their aggressors but also the possibility of no punishment.
In 2014, NFL player Ray Rice brutally assaulting his now wife, Janay Palmer, on camera. In the video, Rice punches Palmer and drags her out of the elevator. Rice was eventually released by the Baltimore Ravens but hasn’t spent any time in jail.
Although the attack was on camera, it wasn’t enough to put him in jail. A situation like this is discouraging to survivors of domestic violence. How could someone feel comfortable coming forward if video evidence isn’t enough to put someone away?
In a similar incident, singer Chris Brown was arrested for assaulting his then girlfriend, singer, Rihanna. Brown spent no time in jail for this assault, and many fans continued to support him during the ordeal. Does this mean we are in a society that pushes the issue of domestic violence under the rug?
Someone’s celebrity status should not exclude him or her from facing the consequences of heinous actions. Survivors are less likely to come forward if they are convinced the legal system is going to fail them like it has done to so many people.
In other situations, male victims of domestic violence are often ridiculed. Many people think men cannot be victims of such violence because they are seen as “stronger”—when in fact, domestic violence has no gender boundaries. According to the NCADV, one in seven men has been victims of severe physical violence at the hands of an intimate partner.
All survivors should have their voices heard and all abusers need to face jail time.