Snyder: Domestic violence calls for airtime

Stephen Snyder

Domestic violence has been receiving a healthy share of media coverage this week due to a video surfacing that shows former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice striking his fiance – now his wife — in an elevator.

I am glad that the nation is now collectively focusing on domestic violence for these brief moments, but I know that all too soon our focus will be shifted in another direction. Such is the side effect of our society’s attention deficit disorder when it comes to social issues.

Do you know when it is too late to talk about domestic violence? Right after it happens. In this country, a woman is assaulted by her partner every fifteen seconds. That statistic is horrible enough on its own, but it does not even factor in the thousands of cases in which a man is assaulted by his partner.

According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 30 percent of women and 10 percent of men will be physically abused by their intimate partner. Many of those victims will not get local news coverage let alone national attention.

This is not an issue that we can write off as someone else’s problem or a distant problem, as the coalition reports that college-aged women are the age group that is most likely to experience domestic violence. This truly says more about college-aged men than it does about women. The worst part of the crime is that many victims never come forward to expose their assaulters or ask for help. Can we blame them?

Criminals like Rice walk the streets as free men. Yes, I know that he was not sentenced, but he knows exactly what he is and everyone else does too. A ban from the NFL should be the least of his worries. He should be watching the Ravens play from a prison cell.

Disregard all the private instances. Disregard all the abuse that we cannot see. The fact is that we watched a man beat his partner in a public place and then we let him walk away from it. Rice may be the new face of domestic violence, but he gets to show that face in public.

If our legal system does not convict a man who so blatantly broke the law, how can we convince any other victims that we can protect them? I have no words to express the distance by which we as a nation have missed the mark on this issue.

The time to face social issues like domestic violence is before they occur. We cannot just boil it down to thirty seconds of banter on a news network after a famous figure commits the crime. There needs to be constant and persistent learning taking place.

There are countless organizations that attempt to educate the public on the dangers of domestic violence and how to prevent it. One such organization in Ames is the Assault Care Center Extending Shelter and Support, which was formed by the city of Ames in conjunction with Iowa State in the 1970s.

This may be a little early, but I will make sure everyone knows now so there will be no excuse to forget: October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. ISU organizations will be hosting several events to highlight the importance of this issue and raise public awareness.

We may think that the solution to this problem is obvious, but we still have not figured it out. I have attended these events in the past and they are almost exclusively attended by women, against whom more than 80 percent of domestic violence crimes are committed.

Therefore, I believe it is time for the gender that is predominately responsible for committing these crimes to start showing up. I call on college-aged men: Get yourself out to those events and get yourself educated.

How many more of our friends, sisters and mothers will become victims before we step up to end this epidemic? I hope the answer is zero, but sadly, I know all too well that it is not.