The images have become part of America’s consciousness. Now the hope is they become part of America’s permanent memory.
Football star Ray Rice punching his wife unconscious in an elevator, then dragging her body out like a sack of topsoil, has created outrage about domestic violence and abuse as never before. It has something to do with the appalling attack coming at the beginning of the National Football League’s season and social media, which made the images ubiquitous.
The worry, however, is that football season ends, and social media’s power to educate people is often on par with a soap bubble’s ability to affect the breeze it’s blown on.
But the wall-to-wall coverage, from sports page to front page, might this time bring the issue out of the shameful corners it has lived in. Helping to keep the momentum alive, broadcaster Meredith Vieira just recently told a viewing audience of millions about her own time spent in a violent relationship.
Some have been making the case for a long time, notably by baseball legend Joe Torre, who grew up in a household where his policeman father terrorized his mother. He came forward years ago and publicly decided to change things with his “Safe at Home Foundation,” dedicated to educating the public “to end,” as Mr. Torre said, “the cycle of domestic violence and save lives.”
More than a third of American women, or 42.4 million, have “experienced rape, physical violence and/or stalking by an intimate partner at some point in their lifetime,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Like almost all social problems, many place the culprits in narrow social categories — the football player jacked up on violence and who-knows-what else, or the working stiff who gets hammered on Saturday night and lets loose his demons on his wife. But it’s telling that in the middle of the Rice affair, stories on the front pages of national newspapers told of a federal judge who was arrested for attacking his wife in a luxury hotel room.
Which brings us to our beautiful and peaceful corner of the world. Police Chief Jim Read has confirmed that his department’s statistics show that about 40 Islanders a year are in need of help because they live in abusive homes. And those are just the people who phone the police.
One of the ways to get involved in helping victims of domestic violence and abuse in our area, and to educate the public on the issue, is to support The Retreat, a nonprofit group that takes in and protects women and children who have been victimized.
This Saturday, September 27, the Retreat is hosting its second annual Support our Shelter (SOS) Golf Tournament at the Shelter Island Country Club. For more information on The Retreat, and the golf outing, phone 329-4398, or email [email protected]