Society Magazine

This Organization Is Taking On Domestic Violence In The NFL

Posted on the 18 July 2016 by Juliez
credit: NSVRC

credit: NSVRC

In the past few years, multiple National Football League (NFL) players have been publicly accused of sexual assault or domestic violence. Although the allegations are deeply disturbing, the media has previously overlooked these athletes’ alleged histories of violence, in turn contributing to a society in which aggressive misogyny is normalized.

But three leading sexual violence prevention organizations hope to change that. The National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC), the California Coalition Against Sexual Assault (CALCASA), and the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence (NAESV) partnered with the NFL in June to create the first-ever major initiative of sexual violence prevention plans. This collaborative project, called “Raliance,” is dedicated to responding, preventing, and ending sexual violence in “one generation.”

Delilah Rumberg, CEO of the NSVRC, recently spoke to the FBomb about this partnership, which she said will improve the public’s understanding of sexual violence and essentially integrate communication — on social media and in communities, through youth training programs and projects — about policy, prevention, and intervention to escalate real change.

“By partnering with the NFL, we plan to expand sexual violence awareness and prevention strategies across communities nationwide,” Rumberg told me. “We will promote effective and consistent communication around sexual violence.”

The NFL has a long history of players arrested due to domestic violence cases. High-profile cases — including Ray Rice, Greg Hardy, and countless more — have been well-covered, and there have been over 50 cases against NFL players since September, 2006, according to a 2014 USA Today  report. But these cases have generally been treated with leniency: When NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell began charging players with domestic violence in April 2007, he installed himself as the judge and jury and routinely granted lighter punishments to players accused.

Each of the three partner organizations will address this disappointing history by playing a unique role in initiating Raliance. The CALCASA will push prevention programming with a focus on sports and athletics, the NAESV will control the development of sufficient public policies, and the NSVRC will provide media training and “manage the development of a public policy response,” said Rumberg.

Importantly, the program will specifically provide training programs for journalists in order to promote more accurate and sensitive coverage of sexual assault in the media, according to Rumberg. When the media makes mistakes in handling sexual violence cases, it hurts activist and advocacy efforts by affecting how the public views sexual assault.

For example, when TMZ released a video of Rice physically assaulting his fiancee in an elevator, TMZ titled the video “ELEVATOR KNOCKOUT” and described the video using the phrase, “Fiancee Takes Crushing Punch.” In doing so, they completely diminished the seriousness domestic violence by offensively attempting to frame evidence of a major epidemic of sexual/physical abuse in a humorous way. Even when the media doesn’t make such violence into a joke, however, they risk desensitizing viewers to the gravity of the phenomenon by over-exposing it. When NFL player Adrian Peterson admitted to physically assaulting his 4-year-old son with a weapon, for example, major news outlets aired scenes of his court case and documented the trial on social media, desensitizing the incident and giving viewers an inaccurate perspective of the case in doing so.

Sexual violence needs to be viewed as a sensitive topic by the media and society at large, and the NSVRC is a great organization to take charge on this with Raliance. NSVRC is one of the largest national organizations centered around sexual violence prevention. The organization is currently based in Pennsylvania, although Rumberg noted it became “a central hub for information regarding sexual violence” in response to the anti-rape movement of the 1960s, and provides an array of projects and programs to educate communities on sexual assault. With the establishment of Raliance, NSVRC will create and host more youth conferences and sexual violence prevention events across the nation in the next year.

“We galvanize local communities, campuses, and the military,” Rumberg said. “We create more awareness for prevention of sexual violence as well as the resources available for everyone … and this is something that Raliance will be accomplishing too.”

Raliance also plans to generate discussions on social media about sexual violence resources and educate youth and athletic teams about sexual violence prevention and response, according to Rumberg — efforts that are especially important considering that every 2 minutes, an American is sexually assaulted, and every 8 minutes, that victim is a child, according to RAINN. Although the rate of sexual violence has fallen 74 percent since 1993, approximately 61,000 children are victims of sexual abuse each year.

Rumberg’s focus for NSVRC programs generally, as well as for Raliance specifically, is to open factual conversations about healthy relationships, sexual violence training programs, comprehensive sex education, and engaging and informing bystanders in order to address this upsetting reality. With the collaborative creation of Raliance, Rumberg believes that sexual violence will drastically decrease not only in the NFL, but nationally in one generation, and expedite positive change.


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