A New Jersey judge dismissed felony assault charges filed against former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice after an incident in which he struck his then fiancée in a casino elevator. Believe it or not, it is not uncommon for first-time domestic violence offenders like Rice to see charges against them dropped, but it should not sway victims from seeking justice for crimes committed against them. Every day, advocates at the National Domestic Violence Hotline answer chats, texts and calls from victims, survivors, their family and friends trying to understand their rights and protections afforded them under the law.
In abusive relationships, not only is there fear that the victim will be physically harmed, there is also a fear that they may be killed if they leave or report the abuse. Many ask "why does a victim stay?" There are many reasons. They may not have the financial resources to leave their abuser. If there are kids involved, victims may fear for the safety of their children. The list of why a victim stays is long. It is important that people living in violent situations do not view this decision as evidence that the abusive partner prevails or goes unpunished.
When abusers call our advocates seeking help, we provide them with resources such as information about batterer intervention programs. We believe that those who are able to admit they are abusive have the ability to change if they are committed to change. They must, however, be held accountable by those around them and by the justice system.
It's important that we continue discussing domestic violence, but it's also important that we take action to ensure victims get the justice they deserve and abusers get the help they need. We must continue to develop educational programs aimed at helping our youth understand the difference between healthy and unhealthy relationships, to ensure they never need a domestic violence hotline. In addition, employers and organizations must take the time to learn about domestic violence because domestic violence affects one in four women and one in seven men. Every employer needs to formulate a plan, or they will be woefully unprepared to deal with it when it happens in their workplace.
If you or anyone you know would like to learn more, participate in the discussion or provide assistance to The Hotline's life-saving programs, visit thehotline.org or to reach out for help call the hotline 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).
The National Domestic Violence Hotline is a non-profit organization providing victims and survivors with life-saving tools and immediate support. Loveisrespect is a project of the National Domestic Violence Hotline and Break the Cycle where highly trained peer advocates offer free phone, text and chat services to young people 24/7/365. Callers to the hotline 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) can expect highly trained advocates to offer compassionate support, crisis intervention information and referral services in more than 200 languages. Visitors to TheHotline.org and loveisrespect.org can find information about domestic violence, safety planning, local resources, and ways to support the organization.
The Hotline relies on the generous support of individuals, private gifts from corporations and foundations and federal grants. It is funded in part by Grant Number 90EV0407/03 from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)/ Family Violence Prevention and Services Program, a division of the Family and Youth Services Bureau in the Administration for Children and Families. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the Administration for Children and Families or the U.S. Department of HHS.