This exceptionally touching reflection by Lacy Johnson over Good: Stop Calling Abusers Monsters. Her point is that these domestic abusers are not, in fact, monsters. They do not have tails, they do not have fur or sharp teeth; they do not breathe fire. They are men who walk readily around among us, as Ray Rice would have done, had the video not been made public and a media outlet seize on it. But let’s get real. I grew up in a small town where we knew full well some men were “hard on their wives.” This never disqualified them from from a seat at the bar, or a party invite. No point in making trouble with a neighbor, right? He’ll probably grow out of it, and they’ll settle into a happy marriage someday. Unless it “goes to far.”
What all this shit covers up is that there two people who need help. Rationalizing and minding your own business in this context is simple enabling. Liberty and minding your own business is not an excuse for failing to lead or for tolerating the intolerable.
The NFL, which thrives off violence and the objectification of women, and its posturing is just another entry into the game of appearing to care about domestic violence while not really caring. The Ravens fired Rice, which is useless. Rice didn’t need to lose his job. The man needs help, and so does the victim. He was ordered to go through counseling by the court, which is pretty standard for domestic abuse. I agree that it seems light, but I also think that counseling can make a difference. But only if the participants and their supporters are ready for it to make a difference, and the way to help the Rices be ready is to support them in that direction. Not make a sideshow of their lives or make gestures to protect your own reputation.
People are not monsters, even though they do monstrous things. From C.S. Lewis’ The Voyage of the Dawn Treader:
“Sleeping on a dragon’s hoard with greedy, dragonish thoughts in his heart, he had become a dragon himself.”
Only he wasn’t, not really. Under all that dragon skin, he was still just a boy.