Inside “Heartbroken”: What we’ve all learned about domestic violence and the NFL

http://firesteelwa.org/2014/10/heartbroken-a-young-female-fan-reacts-to-domestic-violence-and-the-nfl/
Emma Lytle with her boyfriend,  Ricky Martinez. She’s a lifelong Seahawks fan, but has recently been dismayed by the domestic violence incidents in the NFL.

It”s hard to believe, but when we first conceived of this blog series for Firesteel in late July, one of the most notorious, most-shared videos in history hadn’t even surfaced yet. All we knew was that last spring, Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice had been seen in a surveillance video dragging the unconscious body of his then-fiancee Janay Palmer out of an elevator — an apparent domestic violence incident. We didn’t know yet what had happened inside the elevator.

As the National Football League (NFL) dithered about trying to decide how to handle that situation, we found out our project assistant, Emma Lytle, is a true-blue Seahawks fan. And we thought it might be fascinating to look at the incident through her eyes. So, we asked her to share her perspective via a Firesteel blog post for Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

Since then, it’s been a roller coaster. The shocking video* from inside the elevator was leaked — but why did it take so long and when did the NFL know about it? What’s the appropriate response to these incidents? More importantly, how can we use the situation to encourage people to advocate to end domestic violence? Emma, a Seattle University Strategic Communications senior, fields these questions thoughtfully and passionately.

On our project, we are well aware that domestic violence is a leading cause of family homelessness. Most domestic violence cases do not end up as worldwide news. Many incidents go unreported. And women and children in our community end up fleeing violence into homelessness.

YWCA invites advocates to use this icon on Facebook and Twitter this month, recognizing that 1 in 4 U.S. women experience domestic violence.
YWCA invites advocates to use this icon on Facebook and Twitter this month, recognizing that 1 in 4 U.S. women experience domestic violence.

Emma spent several months researching the prevalence of domestic violence in the NFL and watching the Rice case unfold. She came to it as a highly knowledgeable football fan who didn’t know a lot about domestic violence. And as we had anticipated, watching this case through her eyes has been a transformative experience for all of us on the team.

Follow Emma on her journey via the two-part Firesteel series, “Heartbroken”: A young female fan reacts to domestic violence and the NFL. 

  • In Part One, Emma explores the connection between DV and family homelessness and shares innovative strategies like Housing First for domestic violence survivors.
  • In Part Two, published Oct. 15, she recaps all the ins and outs of the NFL’s domestic violence policy and the extent of the problem, along with a solution posed by the beloved Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson.

Please read and share the post with others during Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Then read the reaction piece Friday, Oct. 17 from Perry Firth, who gives a contrasting view; she’s well versed in issues of violence against women, but hadn’t been keeping up with the NFL saga. In her piece, “Violence Against Women: So Common, It’s Cultural,” Perry suggests that the high rate of this category of violence suggests we not only expect but accept it.  Agree? Share you comments on Firesteel.

It’s been an illuminating experience for all of us.

Special thanks to Perry Firth for editing the series, and to Haley Jo Lewis for helping us update the facts at “press time.” More thanks: To Kelly Starr of Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence, for serving as our subject-matter expert; and to Mike Flood of the Seattle Seahawks for filling us in on the Seahawks’ plans to address domestic violence at the team level. And, to Denise Miller and Erin Murphy of Firesteel, for providing this excellent forum for exchanging ideas and learning together.

– Catherine

*The video is easily found on the Internet, but it feels distasteful to link to that act of violence here.

One thought on “Inside “Heartbroken”: What we’ve all learned about domestic violence and the NFL

  1. Pingback: “Stepping Into Homelessness”: Our first edited StoryCorps recording features United Way leader | Seattle University Project on Family Homelessness

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