This week, the country had a national teach-in about domestic violence courtesy of a grainy elevator video showing Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice knocking out his then-fiancée Janay Palmer. The dark, disturbing images sparked the soul-searching coast-to-coast conversation this issue deserves. In the two days after the video's release, calls to the National Domestic Abuse Hotline shot up 84 percent. And while some shamefully implied that victims who stay in abusive relationships are somehow culpable for their abuse, the hashtag #WhyIStayed, begun by Beverly Gooden, provided a harrowing array of deeply poignant answers. Though questions remain about what NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell knew and when he knew it, it's clear this issue goes far beyond the NFL. Ray Rice is just the tip of the iceberg -- beneath it lies a culture and legal system that perpetuates this kind of violence in millions of cases that we never see.
We should not give this kind of assault a special name and put it in a special category that ultimately belittles it, fails to protect society, and robs victims of justice. By calling it "domestic assault," as we have for so long, we put a white picket fence around it and in some weird way prettify it. Which is utterly inexcusable.