I’ve been watching/listening/reading the media conversation about Ray Rice all day. I’ve also been watching my Facebook Feed. (It’s actually my favorite way to find out news, or watch the scores of various sports teams!) All day words have been tumbling through my head, that we’re really missing something big here.

Most of the conversations have been about what the NFL and Ravens organization should have done, or have done, or shouldn’t have done. I admit that when the NFL commissioner handed down the punishment a few months back of only 2 games, I jumped right on the bandwagon to criticize their decision, and that of the Ravens organization. I threw away my daughter’s Ray Rice jersey, and have no intentions of buying her a new one.

But I think we’re focusing on the wrong things.

This unfortunate situation gives us the perfect opportunity to have real conversations about domestic violence. And we are spending our time arguing about whether Ray should be able to stay in the NFL.

As a person whose family has been extremely impacted by domestic violence, I am tired of it being ignored by the world. I’m tired of a system that makes it so hard to keep oneself and one’s children safe. I’m tired of a system that seems to protect the perpetrator, and that ends up punishing the victim over and over again. I’m tired of a system that doesn’t take into account the economic and monetary abuse that goes on long after the physical, verbal, or sexual abuse may have ended. I’m tired of watching people I love have to tell their story over and over with no real change in result. I’m tired of hearing loved ones pray that the courts decide in the children’s best interest, only to have that not occur over and over again. I’m tired of the excuses, the explanations of how the court or guardian ad litum, or judge or lawyers’ hands are tied because of policies that are outdated and unhelpful.

Did you know for instance that a person who has left their abusive spouse, still has to continue to pay for health insurance until the divorce is finalized? And in many cases these divorces and custody battles go on for YEARS. Did you know that in many many cases the victim simply cannot afford to pay the lawyer, court, and other fees that go along with a divorce, or custody battle so they simply give up?

You can read up on the latest statistics at The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

Let’s stop arguing and making excuses. Read up and do something. Talk with your kids, and your friends, and your church, and your colleagues about violence, and help them learn ways to handle anger and other emotions without violence. Make sure you have appropriate outlets for your own emotions. Give financially and with your time to organizations that help abuse victims to heal and be safe. Be aware of those around you, chances are you know someone who needs help. Change your language to reflect that abuse is done by all kinds of people to all kinds of people—and none of it should be acceptable.

Let’s stop arguing about Ray and the NFL. Instead, let’s work for real change in our families, in our communities, and in our world.

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