Domestic violence brought to light by NFL controversy
Controversy over a video where NFL player Ray Rice punches his then-fiancée and knocks her unconscious has brought up many questions regarding domestic violence and abusive relationships.
In the United States, one in three women has experienced physical violence in her lifetime, and 10 percent have been victims of rape, mostly by intimate partners, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
Associate psychology professor Julia Babcock, an expert on domestic violence, has published a study on practices that reduce violence in relationships. She used methods where men were taught to listen to their partners, improving their communication. Babcock said that in cases like Rice’s, one of the underlying problems in relationships where violence occurs is neglect of a partner to the extent that it becomes abusive.
“A core problem of abusive behavior is that aggressive men not only mirror negative emotions like sadness or anger during an argument, but they respond with contempt, belligerence or defensiveness and invalidate a partner’s concerns,” Babcock said in her study.
When it comes to seeking help, Women’s Resource Center Program Coordinator Malkia Hutchinson said that UH can play an important role in assisting students through counseling, and that UH and Houston Police Departments would be able to pursue the victim’s case from a criminal justice system.
“You’re not alone, and there are people at UH and in Houston to help you,” Hutchinson said.
The statistics on campus show that abuse is not limited to race or social class. Hutchinson said that “demographics are pretty spread out.”
“I’ve seen African-American, South Asian, Latina, white students, undergraduate and graduate students, various socio-economic statuses or level of disability,” Hutchinson said. “As is the case with intimate partner violence as a whole and around the country, victims on our campus come in all colors, backgrounds and genders.”
Many students choose to remain silent about their experiences with domestic violence due to fear, shame or not knowing how to reach for help. Communications senior and Life and Arts staff writer Maritza Rodriguez decided to speak up about her abuser and help others who may be in the same situation. She said that she was in a relationship for six months when she experienced violence from her partner.
“I noticed that he was drinking a lot one night,” Rodriguez said. “He was driving home drunk and then he started hitting me in the car.”
Rodriguez said that she had her nose broken by her partner at the time and added that she still has scars from the incident.
“He didn’t remember anything the next morning,” Rodriguez said. “He was asking me for (apologies). I didn’t accept it. No man should lay his hands on a woman.”
Rodriguez also said that she forgave her partner afterwards but could not remain in the relationship.
“It’s a lot of violence that someone doesn’t need or deserve, for any reason,” Rodriguez said. “Talk to someone about it if you can. In the long run, the only person you are hurting is you.”