John Rodriguez

Recently someone asked me on my thoughts about the NFL players accused of physical abuse to their wives, children and, in one case, a fiancé that has been reported by every major news outlet around the world. I shared, “One who abuses another in any way, is a coward, period.”

Most professional athletes are hard working people dedicated to their sport and are upstanding citizens giving freely their time and monetary contributions to community and national organizations. Having stated that, there still are some who abuse their significant others and family members not only physically but also mentally and sexually.

Physical abuse, sexual abuse and mental abuse are a way of life in many homes across America and for the abused, find it hard to reach out and to put an end to the nightmare. Many of us have grown up in an abusive household and for many of the children, abuse is a way of life passed on mainly from father to son. Make no mistake, abuse at any level is wrong and no one should have to tolerate abuse from anyone regardless who they are. By sharing that, by no means should anyone reading this editorial read anything into my thoughts that I am a trained person who can professionally talk about abuse. I can’t, but what I can share is the fact that for many of us who were raised in abusive homes, or still do, makes us an expert on the pain it may cause.

So what to do with athletes who abuse their wives or significant others? The same as the rest of the abusers. Counseling is one of the best known ways to treat them. Anger management is another. Fines from teams and sponsors with the fines being donated to facilities who help the abused. Cut an NFL player from games. Suspend basketball players from games. Striping a world title from a boxing champion. Any means to punish those who hurt others, I’m all for. Sports agents should play a bigger role with those they represent and when an agent sees or hears of some possible abuse, they should step in and confront the athlete. An intervention clause can be outlined as a condition for an athlete to be represented by a sports agent. The same clause can be outlined in all major professional contracts from the team owners.

The bigger story is outside of sports, as previously mentioned, and abuse is in many homes across America. Your neighbor may be an abuser or victim. Your daughter’s teacher may be one. The grocery clerk, banker, gardener and a fellow employee, all may be sucking the life of them from a so-called loved one. Here are some stats I came across along with some organizations who can help those in need.

Nearly one in four women in the U.S. reports experiencing violence by a current or former spouse or boyfriend at some point in her life.

On average, three women are killed every day as a result of domestic violence. More than 40 percent of female murder victims are killed by their husbands or boyfriends.

Data collected in 2005 found that women experience 2 million injuries from partner violence each year.

Women ages 20 to 24 are at the greatest risk of experiencing nonfatal intimate partner violence. They also experience the highest rates of rape and sexual assault.

More than 80 percent of victims of domestic violence are women. About 75 percent of the people who commit domestic violence are male.

Women who have experienced domestic violence are much more likely to have a stroke, develop heart disease, develop asthma, and drink heavily than women who haven’t experienced DV. Sexual and domestic violence is also linked to a range of reproductive health issues, including sexually transmitted infections and HIV, miscarriages, and risky sexual health behavior.

National Domestic Violence Hotline: 800-799-7233; Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network: 800-656-HOPE; Alcoholics Anonymous National Hot Line: 866-733-2415; Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline: 800-4-A-CHILD; Arizona Coalition Against Domestic Violence: 800-782-6400; and the Domestic Abuse Helpline for Men & Women: 888-7HELPLINE.

Most of us know that the majority of domestic violence comes at the hands of men and to those who do so, end the cycle of pain in your home and get some help. That includes men who are victims of domestic violence.

If you know someone who is being abused it should be your responsibility to report it to an organization helping survivors of abuse, your local police officer, your school counselor or any other way that you can help the vulnerable amongst us. And you can do so anonymously.

• Ahwatukee resident John D. Rodriguez is a community organizer and an Arizona licensed sports agent. Reach him at jdrfoundation@msn.com.

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